Explaining Patrick Brown
The Westerner's Guide To Ontario Politics
Hey there Prairie Folk! Do you hate Ontario? Think it's a basket case that the Western provinces have been forced to subsidize since forever? Tired of Upper Canadian arrogance and condescension? Confused by how few Ontarians seem to get how all this is a problem? Worry not, because this is Poletical's Westerner's Guide to Ontario Politics, where your questions about Ontario get answered by a real live Ontarian!
The team at Poletical wanted me to lead off with some insights into the living void that is Patrick Brown, leader of the PC Party of Ontario. Is he the change agent that Ontario needs? (Nope.) Is he going to get Ontario out of debt? (Probably not.) What's with that hair? (Focus groups probably told him that the Justin Bieber cut wouldn’t play well with female voters.)
Now the first thing you have to understand about Mr. Brown is that he was designed for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to replace Kathleen Wynne as Premier. Unlike previous PC Party of Ontario leaders, The Brown-O-Tron Version 2.018 has been programmed not to be distracted by “divisive social issues” or “contentious policy debates”.
The defeat of Kathleen Wynne is surely a noble and righteous goal which is supported by all right-thinking people, but the fact that she still remains competitive is something the people running the PC Party of Ontario really, really don’t enjoy being reminded of. After a decade and a half of Liberal rule, they still can’t figure out how they lost power in the first place.
To hear them tell it, everything was humming along fine in Ontario until those EEEEVIL corrupt Liberals came along and ruined everything with their tricksy ways and dirty politics. The nice, good and virtuous PC’s tried to warn Ontarians about the damage the Liberals would do, but the voters were seduced to the dark side by irresponsible promises that our children will be paying for for the next 27 centuries. Oh, what a terrible fall from grace! By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept as we remembered Zion. Woe and tragedy!
(Naturally this is nonsense— the PC Party of Ontario has always been a breeding ground of incompetence and resentment but that is not the focus of this particular instalment of The Westerners’ Guide To Ontario Politics. I only bring it up to establish the context from which Patrick Brown arose.)
Anyway, this fairy tale is a key piece of the Patrick Brown Puzzle, but surely Ontarians have the wherewithal to see past this simplistic story? To that I say: Would we be in the situation we are if we could?
You see, Ontarians don’t share Albertans’ cultural predisposition to resistance and public plain-spokenness. From the earliest days of the Family Compact, and the apocryphal story of Laura Secord, the elites have told tales to hide their shame and we have believed them. In the name of putting up a united front against an enemy, be it the Americans or Westerners such as yourselves, any number of abuses can and will be excused.
In Alberta you could be anti-Ralph Klein, anti-Jason Kenney or anti-Alison Redford and you wouldn’t be branded as "helping the opposition", but here’s former senator and ex-Ontario PC MPP Bob Runciman doing just that to those who would dare speak against Patrick Brown. Often, those Party faithful who thought they were just speaking to concerns in good faith are so surprised by the violent response that they fall silent.
This is actually a tried and true tactic of the PC Party elites. Here they are doing it to party members in the John Tory era, and here they are doing it again during Tim Hudak’s reign.
And what is the result of this enforced filter bubble, this safe-space protective zone imposed around Patrick Brown and his close advisors? Well, it will come as no surprise to you that they have started to act as if they can do no wrong.
Forget about the nomination controversies you’ve heard so much about. Forget about the PC Party’s conversion to “revenue neutral carbon pricing.” These guys are now out Liberal-ing the Liberals and then high-fiving each other over how clever they are. In case you think I'm exaggerating, here's PC Party of Ontario grandmaster Jamie Watt saying precisely that.
Here they are doing it over a proposed law to create bubble zones around abortion clinics. Patrick Brown all but stood up and shouted that he wanted this law passed ASAP, thinking that he would catch the Liberals off guard. And the upshot of this was.....that the law still got passed, just not as fast as Patrick Brown would have liked. Oooo....kay?
Now rather than make this a debate about being pro-life or pro-choice, I want to point out that what this ridiculous episode demonstrates is that Patrick Brown won’t make a move unless the Liberals make it first. He’s playing this pre-election cycle entirely defensively because he KNOWS that the Liberals will effectively exploit any weakness and that this is their province— we just live here. It’s a terrible reminder of how little it matters to most Ontarians that the province is in a ditch— and how nervous Patrick and the PC’s actually are about their prospects despite their confident facade.
They're so pumped up on nervous adrenaline and Red Bull that yes, they are actually going to court over whether Brown actually defamed the Premier by saying that she was "on trial" when she was actually just on the stand as a witness. This may be porn for lawyers, but it doesn't bode well for the rest of us who are still waiting to be convinced that this guy can actually beat the supremely dirty Liberals.