There is a very simple reason that the Ontario Liberals keep winning elections, their opponents are idiots:
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown says he's in favour of putting a price on carbon to help deal with climate change, but he's still no fan of the Liberals' cap-and-trade plan.
In his keynote address to more than 1,600 PC convention delegates Saturday, Brown said the official opposition party must change if it wants to form government in 2018, and told delegates he became a Progressive Conservative because of the environment.
"Climate change is a fact, It is a threat. It is man made," he told the party faithful.
"We have to do something about it, and that something includes putting a price on carbon."
The line earned only muted applause from the Conservative audience and even some calls of "no."
A massive chorus of boos with an immediate demand that he resign would have been far more appropriate. Mr Brown has described himself as a "pragmatic conservative." This is another way of saying "blue tie Liberal." The theory of pragmatic conservatism is that most Canadians are basically Liberals. In order to get elected you need to act like a Liberal while cynically tossing some red meat to the conservative base when necessary. The most enthusiastic supporters of this school of politics are career politicians, most specifically that carbuncle upon the body politic: The Lawyer Politician.
Patrick Brown is a Lawyer Politician, or to be more accurate a Politician Lawyer having been elected to Barrie City Council before he even entered law school. Half a century ago then Ontario Premier John Robarts used to advise young lawyers seeking political office to keep active in their legal practices. The day might come when they had to choose between their principles and their MPP salary. Having some billable hours on the side would make that decision easier. Premier Robarts was a genial Red Tory of the old school. His idea of being pragmatic was a matter of getting legislation through or acquiescing to contemporary political realities. Bend now so you don't have to break later. Whatever the merits of that approach it was mostly divorced from the sort cynical careerism that scars the political process today.
To previous generations politics was something you did after having done something useful in life. The successful small town newspaper editor, the self-made millionaire, the retired colonel or brigadier with strong opinions on defence spending. That scattering of professionals, entrepreneurs and teachers that populated the House of Commons and provincial legislatures from Confederation to about the 1960s. In 1867 there was exactly one career politician in all of the Dominion of Canada, a certain John A Macdonald of Kingston. From Lester Pearson onward the Canadian state grew so vast that it became possible for hundreds - if not thousands - of people to make a living as career politicians.
Patrick Brown is one of those thousands. It's easy to be a principled politician when you're in comfortable middle age and politics is merely a game. There is a truism my father often repeated to me while I was growing up: You're not really free unless you can tell your boss to fuck it. Today very few politicians are in any sense free. This is why the power of the Whips is so total. Defy the party leader's pinstriped enforces and your very livelihood is threatened. That means mortgages, school fees, insurance, car payments and the thousand little expense of modern life that must weigh upon an MP, MPP or MLA when thinking about their political futures. This isn't a game they can easily walk away from. For a great many of them their legislative salaries are the most they will ever see in their lives.
From these great forces little creatures are born. Patrick Brown is a very little creature, a Tim Hudak clone with a thousand yard stare. He is a career politician with an appropriately insincere rhetorical style, skittish political instincts and a desperate need to be liked by the legacy media. In a single day at the recent PC convention Mr Brown demonstrated all three aspects of his character with brilliant clarity.
No one has every lost or won an election in this country on environmental issues, with the exception of Lizzy May. In times of economic crisis environmental issues drop to the very bottom of voters concerns. Declaring you believe in man-made global warming and favour carbon pricing will win you absolutely no votes. At a stroke Patrick Brown has betrayed his base and weakened his ability to effectively criticize the Liberals' corrupt environmental policies. All so that the Globe and Mail's editorial boards will look upon the Ontario PC's with a modicum more of kindness. It profits a man nothing to sell his soul for the whole world...but for the Globe, Patrick?
Not content with having insulted the few remaining sincere conservatives in the party, Mr Brown goes onto insult the intelligence of everyone at the convention:
The once-mighty Conservatives abandoned wide swaths of the province and alienated would-be Conservative voters simply by targeting only "winnable" ridings in the last election, campaign organizer Walied Soliman told delegates.
"Patrick Brown does not believe in target seats," he said. "Under our plan there is no Liberal safe seat in Ontario. We have 122 target seats in 2018."
And I am Anne Murray.
In 2014 the downtown Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina returned Han Dong - a Liberal - with 46.28% of the vote. NDP warhorse Rosario Marchese - who had held the riding since 1999 - was defeated with 30.51% of the vote. The Tory candidate? Roberta Scott captured a whopping 13.91% of the vote. If Walied Soliman and Patrick Brown really think Trinity Spadina is a "target seat" then they are professional incompetents and should resign. If they seriously believe ordinary rank and file party members are stupid enough to believe this BS then their arrogance disqualifies them from leading a major political party. Either way this is not a team capable of taking on and beating the Wynne Machine.
For decades it's been a complaint of the Right that whether we vote for Liberals or Conservatives, somehow progressives always wind up running the government. Patrick Brown is promising to streamline the process: In 2018 Ontarians will have three fully fledged Left-wing parties to choose from.