|Dig Dug Doug.|
I'm calling it: Doug Ford wins the Ontario PC leadership.
Granted, my track record on reading the public mood in this way has not been great. I did not expect Trump to win the Republican nomination. I did not expect Clinton to win the Democratic nomination. I did not expect Trump to best Clinton. I did not expect Justin Trudeau to win the past federal election.
So when I say Doug Ford will win, you can probably take it to the bank.
For a withdrawal.
Here's my reasoning. Conventional political sense and her resume says Christine Elliott should win. But she has run twice before, and lost both times. There seems to be an enthusiasm deficit. I think to the average party activist, to elect her now would feel tired, dull, conventional. She is the obvious establishment candidate. I think the current mood in the party is anti-establishment, or ought to be. About to dance to what looked like a slam-dunk win over the provincial Liberals, the party establishment seems to have managed to tie its own shoelaces together on the bench. Party leader suddenly resigns. Party president suddenly resigns. Talk about missing or misappropriated funds. Talk about rigged nomination meetings. Not the best argument for “steady as she goes.”
There was also a lot of discontent in the party about Brown running too far to the left. Darn it, a great opportunity to take power, and Brown chose to run on the same platform as the Liberals. So who cares who wins, now? Maybe sly politics, on the grounds that those to the right have nowhere else to go; but the electorate for the leadership is going to be mostly party activists. They are in the game, for the most part, out of ideological conviction. They are not happy. They don't want to get fooled again.
And the stark fact is, in the last leadership race, Elliott ran to the left of Brown.
It sets up a situation like that in the Republican Party that produced Trump—only more so. The party faithful are likely to feel betrayed by the party establishment. They are not going to want to act like sheeple. They will not obediently vote for Jeb Bush.
So—does that mean they vote for Mulroney? Nah; she's another establishment candidate, ideologically close to Brown or Elliott. All she has to offer when contrasted to Elliott is being younger and having the last name Mulroney (instead of Flaherty). It hardly amounts to a worthy reason to vote for her instead of Elliott. Worse, the comparison to Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals is too obvious. It will not sit well with many PC activists to think they are imitating the Liberals. These guys have been going on for the last few years about how Trudeau is not qualified just a pretty face, about nepotism, and so on. Are they going to want to feel like hypocrites? For no ideological advantage?
But, if they do not want to emulate Liberals, it is the standard Canadian tendency, on the other hand, to emulate the last big thing that happened in politics in the US. Witness the current fit of statute-tipping. The last big thing in the US, especially on the right, is Donald Trump. There have already been rumblings about finding a Canadian Trump: Kellie Leitch and Kevin O'Leary both tried to ride that horse in the recent federal leadership contest.
Both failed badly; but the most obvious reason was that neither was a plausible surrogate Trump. They lacked that essential rough edge. Everybody knew Leitch was faking it; she was a Red Tory, an MD, an establishment figure. And her imitation was insultingly obvious: “let's drain the canal.” O'Leary shared nothing with Trump but being a businessman and a TV personality.
Doug Ford, love him or hate him, is probably the closest thing in Ontario to a Canadian Trump. His brother Rob was Trump before Trump was Trump. Doug is no Rob, but that may be to his advantage. Rob might have been a bit too baggage-laden.
I say the Conservative footsoldiers are in the mood to vote Ford in to poke eyes and clean house.
To be clear, I am not saying this is a good idea. I am not saying it is a bad one. I am saying I think it will happen.