Is Conservatism the new norm in Ontario?

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Election, politics
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When you look at the Conservative federal victory and the election of Rob Ford in Toronto, one is tempted to number the remaining days of McGuity’s Liberal Party before the next Ontario election.  Is Conservatism the new norm?

First of all, let’s not get swept away by “Conservative norm”.  Remember that the real figures from the federal election showed clearly that a majority of Canadians did not vote Conservative, and that this was even more evident in Ontario.  Seats do not translate into popular vote and vica-verca.  Remember that Rob Ford was elected primarily by the outlying constituents of Toronto and enjoyed far less support from voters in the core of the city (who are now disapproving policies promoted by Ford’s office which effects them specifically).

We may be seeing a backlash against conservatism, especially as we watch the stubborn ideology of the Tea Party south of the border.  I have hope and faith that Canadians (even ones right of centre) will watch that circus and fear treading into the same ring.  While extremists are becoming more extreme, moderates may be showing more caution.

The key will be identifying what exactly the Conservatives in Ontario are going to adopt as their policies.  Are they going to be even more slash and burn to government than Harris was (which is the Liberal claim), or are they more moderate in their conservatism.  Fiscal responsibility and restraint is not a bad idea in this economy, but if the Conservatives start whining that our economy is in a crisis situation in order to enable their personal right wing ideology, then we’re in trouble.

Ontario is in a fairly stable and positive economic condition.  The Conservatives will be loathe to admit that, because, of course, it has to be their claim that the Liberals can do no right and so things MUST be falling apart.  Hence the need for extreme right wing measures to put things back in order before the ship sinks.  -Except that the ship isn’t sinking.  Yell, “To the life boats!!” often enough on any ship, though, and people will run.

TLhe Conservatives can do three possible things in the upcoming election.
1)  They can present a clear right wing economic policy which will result in reduced government and funding, cutting things down to the bare bones the way that Ford envisions government in Toronto.
2)  They can present a sincere, moderate Conservative policy, like in the old days when people didn’t have to be borderline Libertarian in order to qualify as Conservative.  –or–
3)  They can do what they probably will do, because it worked so well for Harper’s Conservatives in the federal election.  They will sidestep the issues, declare as little as possible and spend most of their time attacking McGuinty and the Liberals rather than saying anything definitive themselves.  Why mess with a tried and tested strategy.  As I said, if you yell that the ship is sinking, people will believe it whether it is true or not.

Finally, take a moment to remember the days under the leadership of Mike Harris.  Even if Hudak will only match Harris rather than surpass him, do we want a government that will promote confrontation rather than cooperation with teachers and other government workers?  Do we want a government that caters to big business at the expense of the environment?

One thing is clear.  Hudak and his Provincial Conservatives must have their true intentions, policies and ideologies draw out of them in order for the Ontario voter to have a clear idea of what they are voting for!  They must not be allowed to sidestep issues and misdirect the voter the way the Harper and the federal Conservatives did.

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