Tomorrow is Ontario Election day and if you read no further in anticipation of the biased ramblings of a blue blooded card carrying member of the Ontario PC Party please read this – If you are eligible to vote I strongly encourage you do so tomorrow. If you are not sure where to vote please visit this website which will point you in the right direction.
The topics I want to cover in this blog post are two fold, because this is election day AND referendum day and I would like to register two endorsements.
Tomorrow I will be voting NO in the referendum rejecting the proposed mixed-member-proportional system that was proposed by the Citizens Assembly. I’ve debated with people many times over the last few weeks over the merits of our current system and this proposed system and even after many have tried to persuade me I cannot bring myself to support this system.
The unforgivable inherent flaw in the system to me is the fact that 29 MPPs would be added to the rolls who would not be directly elected by the people but would be selected by the parties offices. In Ontario where we have three parties who exist within a pretty rigid balance of power I cannot imagine how this would improve the democracy of this province. Don’t think for a second that the PC party or the Liberal party will put anyone on this list who is not a party hack or mini-poli-celebrity.
There is not enough competition (i.e. from regional parties, special interest parties, etc) in our three party system for this system to work. There is no over riding reason for a party to “listen to the people” with MMP any more then in our current system . Liberals will pick Liberal Hacks and The Conservatives will pick Conservative Hacks. It’s that simple. And with these MPPs who are not accountable directly to the electorate what do you think their performance will be like? Their attendance? Should any of these people ever be considered for cabinet considering they have no clear mandate from the electorate?
We already have one unaccountable layer of government in the form of the senate – how is that working out for the people of Ontario and the people of Canada? MMP is not the answer.
The argument for MMP stems from a desire to create greater interest in our political system. The claim is that MMP will be the beginning of great things to come in a new level of democratic participation and the way we do politics in this province would forever change. That is flat wrong. Very little would change. The voting public would still be apathetic, and would still find too much trouble in picking up a newspaper or getting involved with a political campaign of choice. In other regions of the world that have implemented MMP there has been little to no change in voter turn out. MMP is not a magic bullet. MMP is not the answer.
I strongly urge you to consider voting NO to MMP tomorrow.
I met John Tory in 2002 at a convention for the Ontario PC party in Toronto. My first impression of him wasn’t honestly that great. He was sitting at the bottom of an elevator at the Metro Toronto Convention Center greeting people as they came off and I went over and introduced myself. We had a brief chat and at the time I had the impression John shock my hand, quickly cached my name and position in the party, and started looking for the next person to meet. I later put this into context when the rumors started circulating around the convention that John was at the convention gaging interest in support for both running for leader of the federal party and to test the waters for running for the mayor of Toronto (which he would go on to do the next mayoral election). Alright fine – John was looking for money players and big names, some random riding association vice president wasn’t exactly what he had in mind – it was business, I understand.
Luckily later that evening I had a chance to talk to Mr Tory for a good 10 or so minutes in the suite he hosted to woo potential supporters (also luckily for me he hosted the suite at an odd location outside of the convention center and attendance wasn’t that great so I had a chance to properly meet the man!). Once I had the chance to see what he was about and able to talk some policy with him I was very impressed.
I later went on volunteer for Mr Tory’s mayoral run in the city of Toronto and the policy wonk in Tory really started to sit well with me. I always felt he was a little red-tory for my taste but on the whole his fiscal conservative policy sense always won the day for me.
So it was with great sadness I accepted the results of his mayoral loss in the city of Toronto the following year. I was more then a little angry that the citizenry of Toronto had missed the opportunity for a really great mayor who would have done great things for the city’s finances and operational efficiency, things I knew at the time that the newly elected Mayor Miller and his NDP council would drive into the ground in a hurry.
When in 2004 John Tory decided to run for the Ontario PC Party I was pretty happy that someone with such great name recognition was entering the race and I knew he would represent the moderate/fiscal conservative wing of the party well. I myself supported Jim Flaherty in that contest but when John Tory ended up winning the day at the convention I felt pretty confident that we would be going into the next election with a strong leader. It was hard to be disappointed when you sat back and realized how great a leader he would make for the party.
That is a lot of history for what you would think should be a quick to the point endorsement but I wanted to say this – I have worked both for and against John Tory and I can honestly say there isn’t a stronger leader we could have asked for going into this election and I honestly think you couldn’t ask for a better premier (until a week ago Tory had a 20% lead of Dalton McGuinty in “who do you think would make the best premier” polls). I’ve had the privilege of working pretty closely to Mr Tory in the past and even when I was knee deep with the Flaherty campaign in opposing Tory’s run at the party leadership he was a leader worthy of respect and a man of solid ideas and principle – the type of Premier this province needs.
The over whelming majority of media and public attention in this election has been wrapped around the discussion surrounding faith based school funding. I will get into my views on this in the days following the election as I don’t think another moment of this campaign in the public domain should be based on this solitary issue (and for the record – I do not support faith based school funding – again I’ll revisit this in a few days time once the dust settles after the election…). It is a travesty that in the information age when access to the information to make an informed decision in an election is widely available to all this one solitary issue is what the campaign has boiled down to.
The old saying in politics is that on the whole the electorate does not elect a new government – they punish the old government. Never in the history of Ontario (barring possibly the NDP destruction of the province in the early 90s) has a government so sorely needing punishing then Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government. I was very disappointed with the campaign the conservatives ran in 2003 which saw McGuinty’s entrance to power.
I am a firm believer that ideas win campaigns, that engaging the public in ideas that will impact their day to day life is the ONLY way to win an election. The Road Ahead, the Ontario PC platform from the 2003 election was not the strongest document I had ever seen but did have some really great ideas and likely would have done great things for this province. Unfortunately in 2003 we let Dalton McGuinty win the ideas campaign. I will respect Dalton for laying out a plan in 2003 that was both engaging and idea driven and having the tenacity to drive the agenda according to his plan. It was a well fought and well earned campaign.
The problem with McGuinty ever since he won back in 2003 is that he’s broken the VAST MAJORITY of those promises that I once grudgingly respected. That is what this election should have been about. Even if the Ontario PC Party didn’t have a solitary idea in their head (and they do) Dalton McGuinty should be held accountable for lying to the people of Ontario last election. His broken promises range everywhere from Health Care to Taxation to Hydro. There isn’t a single ministry within Ontario government where a promise was not broken.
But again I will say ideas should win a campaign. The party with the most well thought out and engaging platform should be the one to win the day. Although again I believe this isn’t our strongest platform ever there are still many things worth your vote.
A John Tory government brings to the table new ideas on managing the provincial budget, finding efficiencies in our health care system, stoking the entrepreneurial flame of Ontario’s small businesses and bringing improvements to our education system. If you brush aside the distraction of faith based school funding the Ontario PC Party has bar none the best platform this time around for ideas that are engaging, workable and in the interests of the people of Ontario. If you are interested in learning more please check out the platform here.
The biggest strength I think the Ontario PC party offers you the average Ontarian in this election is respect. John Tory and his team realize that they work for you, that they are there to represent you, and that the tax dollars in the government coffers are there from your pocket. Dalton McGuinty lied to the people of Ontario in 2003 and it is time that he is held accountable for that.
So tomorrow vote John Tory and your local Ontario PC Candidate because John Tory has the ideas to drive this province towards a bright and successful future and because the Ontario PC Party respects the value of your vote, your tax dollar and the value of a province made.