Tories, post-Tory

A chance for the party to start again


John Tory’s defeat in the Haliburton-Kawartha byelection obviously puts an end to his career as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, and probably to any further political aspirations. It’s a hard end for a good man — but it’s probably for the best. His leadership was crippled as it was by the party’s crushing defeat in the last general election and its bizarre, I’m-quitting-no-I’m-not aftermath, and the likelihood is that he would have been in for a rough ride even had he won the byelection.

More to the point, whatever his personal qualities, he did not present a vision of the party that could inspire its followers or attract the uncommitted. Or rather, he did not represent one. The party that chose Tory as its leader was a party that had lost its nerve, its sense of direction, and, in a sense, its mind: once a party of “revolution,” it had grown uninterested in ideas, or in differing in any serious way with the McGuinty Liberals. So it went with a leader who promised nothing but decency, good management, and presentability: all very good things, but insufficient in politics, and certainly for a politics that matters.

So now they, and he, can start again. There’s no shame in that.


Tories, post-Tory

  1. Howard Hampton probably timed his resignation to prevent the NDP leadership contest from being over shadowed by a PC leadership contest. Here we are with the NDP vote being held tomorrow, all anyone is going to be talking about is John Tory and the PC leadership contest.

  2. You’re absolutely right – and for that reason, I can’t for the life fo me understand why Dalton McGuinty would work so hard to see that Tory lose. Tory’s successor will i) not have the 2007 election hanging over him, ii) will command the respect of his or her caucus, iii) be better at motivating the base, and iv) be far more right wing than Tory ever was.

    For all those reasons, the liberals shouldn’t have seriously contested the seat. They will come to regret it.

    • I was thinking that, too. Tory is damaged goods, and if his party was willing to let him continue, the Liberals should have facilitated.

      • In defence of damaged goods, McGuinty, Harris and Rae had all lost elections before winning big.

    • I suspect that McGuinty’s gambit is to hope that yes, the PCs will choose a hardliner. If McGuinty is still getting battered by the recession in 2011 an opponent who is an urbane, competent moderate with business experience might well be his greatest fear.

      • Conversely, as I pointed out in the other thread, if the economy is still in a slump by 2011 – and the electorate has tired of bailoutmania – then heartless Harris-style conservatism might start looking good again. It took Bob Rae’s fiscal genius in a downturn to get that kind of backlash last time; do you really want to bet it can’t happen again?

        • Tories better elect a proper con for leader this time and not another rockefeller republican. Next election should be interesting: McGuinty has just said there will $18 billion deficit over this year and next, and there is no great love for McGuinty and his nanny state government. A proper con leader will be just what Tories need to draw distinctions between nanny-state free spending Libs and them.

  3. I think that people who think about what politicians think think much more than the politicans think about what the politicians do.

  4. His loss says much more about the constituents of his riding than whatever implications for the conservative party that cannot solidy it’s ideological base. If I had had the chance to vote for him, I would have based on his committment to public service and his wonderful character and humanity. The fact that voters were swayed away from gifted representation in the legislature has to do with the role of media in elections and with voter apathy. Too bad there were no ink stained fingers for voters to contend with, cause after all, a vote with that result is more like a plebiscite in a war torn country than anything else…it’s more politically motivated by media forces than it is a civically involved exercise. I can see a cartoon: a Haliburton voter taking the cotton out of their ears to wipe the voting ink off their fingers!

    • Seriously?! Tory lost, for among other reasons, because the citizens of Kawartha lakes were mad at having lost the good representation they had by having Tory parachuted in. They were never “his” constituents.

  5. That’s the official end or Red Toryism. You can drop Progressive off the front of that party name, especially considering the bunch of Neanderthals they have in the Legislature. For all the Alliance Harper Harris types cheerleading Tory’s demise, and looking to a future comeback, don’t forget a Liberal won in one of the most Conservative ridings in Ontario.You have to feel sorry for Bill Davis today.

  6. I guess if you want to offer yourself as an alternative, you have to be different.

  7. Hopefully now the PC leader will actually be a conservative rather than a “red tory”. Then I might actually vote for them again.

    • Gaunilon,

      Please, you go right ahead! So long as the Tories don’t get more than the 25% that vote the right wing, fundamentalist, neanderthal line so beloved by the unlamented Mike Harris and closet Reformers, it will guarantee a Liberal majority forever. Harris won as a reaction to the Bob Rae government, and it is highly unlikely the neo-cons will see those kinds of results again at a provincial level.

      • “Harris won as a reaction to the Bob Rae government, and it is highly unlikely the neo-cons will see those kinds of results again at a provincial level.”
        1. 18 billion dollar deficit? Check. Double digit unemployment? Soon to be check. No hope for Ontario’s bread and butter industry? Check. Ontario a have-not province? Check (actually it wasn’t even under Rae). I think the present is probably a better time for a solid old right wing backlash.

        “So long as the Tories don’t get more than the 25% that vote the right wing, fundamentalist, neanderthal line so beloved by the unlamented Mike Harris and closet Reformers, it will guarantee a Liberal majority forever.”
        2. Election results by Ontario PC red Tories:
        Grossman: 24.7% 16/130 seats
        Eves: 34.6% 24/103 seats
        Tory: 31.6% 26/107 seats

        Results for blue Tories:
        Miller: 37% 52/125 seats
        Harris: 23.5% 20/130 seats (Harris ran as a moderate)
        Harris II: 44.8% 82/130
        Harris III: 45.1% 59/103 seats (if Harris only won because of Rae, why was he re-elected?)

  8. Cam Jackson the Mayor of Burlington would make a remarkable and outstanding leader for the Ontario PC Party. Jackson is a Ronald Reagan like kind of conservative and has an impressive track record at winning elections.

  9. Somebody should mention Tony Clement as leader material. Not Red Tory, but not part of the Harris Giorno, Flaherty Baird, and former education minister whose name escapes me (fame is fleeting) crew either.

    Doing the best job of all ex Queen’s Park types in Ottawa, but not likely a Harper favorite.

    Has big time Queen’s Park credentials going back to Davis.

    • The education minister is Witmer, I think (who is a red Tory of the Eves wing of the party).

      Uh, Tony Clement was an undergrad at U of T (and later law student) when Davis was in power, so I don’t know how integral he was to Davis. He is very much part and parcel of Ontario’s neoconservative revolution (before 1995 all he could boast of was a failed run for city council).

      Tony Clement is also a bad politician. He barely registered in the 2004 Conservative leadership race, being outflanked by a woman so stupid she made Sarah Palin look well-informed. In 2002 his provincial leadership race went nowhere. He also lost his own riding twice – in 2003 and 2004 (federally). I like Tony Clement, but I have given up any illusion that he is electable.

      Moreover, he hasn’t exactly been a stellar minister. What has he accomplished in health, exactly (apart from being booed at that AIDs thing)? Indeed, the one policy as a federal minister I associate with him is the auto bailout, which is reflective of everything that is wrong about our strategy on this recession (instead of facilitating inevitable economic transitions we are keeping the dead alive, and ensuring continued crisis).

    • According to Tony Clement, he was a leading member of that crew. (You should hear him talk about his days as President of the Ontario PC Party.)

      As for Clement not being a Harper favourite… well, that may have more to do with the assumption that back during the cabinet speculation of late January 2006, Clement’s team was responsible for leaking the story – to the Toronto Star (!) – that Jim Flaherty’s 2004 leadership campaign still owed money to the provincial party. Bit of a clumsy way to go after the Finance gig, no?

      (and I expect the former education minister you were referring to is John Snobelen.)

  10. He is too decent a man, for either provincial or federal politics. However he is an exceptional. business man and I would love t see him run again for Mayor of Toronto. He is just the man to cleanup the Miller mess and put our city on the right track. To bring Toronto back to the “clean, well run, well respected city it was BM” thats, Before Miller.
    John W, you must be joking. Tony Clement? have you seen his record, since he became part of Harper’s cabinet? Pathetic.

    • Thought he was doing a pretty good job on this GM file.

  11. I didn’t notice him one way or the other…and that may be the problem. He didn’t stand out. He came across as a man hiding between buildings and running out to the media like Superman and complaining. He didn’t offer anything – just criticize.

  12. For someone who botched the last election the way he did, it’s amazing he hung around as long as he did.

    Andrew is right, Tory stood for nothing, he could easily have run for the Liberal party. And despite the repeated claims that he has class, his last act before resigning as leader was to take potshots at his fellow Conservatives, not the Liberals. Typical. He battled his own party more than he battled the Liberals.

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