A Look at the Ongoing Pandemonium of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives

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The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is in such a world of chaos that members of the party must be buying U of T psychology professor Dr. Jordan Peterson’s new world number one bestseller 12 Rules to Life: An Antidote to Chaos in desperate hopes of figuring out how to restore order.

After Former PCPO Leader Patrick Brown fled Queen’s Park with reporters fast on his heels to ask questions about his alleged sexual misconduct with young women (just about to be dropped on CTV’s 10 p.m. news show), never to return to his former Official Opposition Leader’s Office, the great chain of being within the PC party was radically disturbed.

Brown’s head rolling unleashed a wave of exits.  His press secretary, other office staff, and his campaign team all abandoned him.

The power vacuum left in place after Brown’s political execution led to the vulnerability of anyone else up to similar questionable behaviour as Brown within the ranks to also be accused of similar misconduct.  By Sunday evening, shortly after Maclean’s and journalist Stephen Maher reached out for comment on an imminent story of an sexual assault claim against him about to be published by the magazine, PCPO president Rick Dykstra stepped down.  The same guy who’d last week promised a leadership contest before the end of March is now out as the top spot of the party’s executive.  Further damaging the PC brand as full of misogynistic bullies, Ontario PC candidate (Carleton) Goldie Ghamari claimed she would be dropping her story today about how an unnamed PC MPP allegedly harassed and intimidated her with his body to deter her from pursuing a career in politics.  After urging the alleged perpetrator to come forward of his own accord, PC MPP Randy Hillier tweeted to her on Twitter saying he thought they only innocently shared a cigarette, and wasn’t aware of how Ghamari felt intimidated.  (Political observers waited with bated breath and had their Twitter accounts set to get any notifications of activity from Ghamari’s account Monday.  She ended up telling her side of things to Ottawa Citizen journalist David Reevely, who then retold both sides’ accounts in his piece looking at the incident and the PCs’ new investigation into it.)     

But things can always get worse, and so they have for the PCPO.  It was also just recently reported Fedeli is looking into alleged mismanagement of party funds under Brown’s term.  It also turns out party members, now over 200,000 members large, had their personal information hacked from the party database.

Despite the bad news, other top Conservative political figures are licking their chomps to take over the most robustly funded and star-studded party in Ontario at this juncture, knowing if they play their cards right they could waltz in and take over the reigns of power from a beleaguered premier in just a few short months.  A golden opportunity like this only happens once in a political lifetime, if ever.

As I predicted in my last column, Victor Fedeli became the interim leader of the PCs. Despite the Fedeli team’s undoubted behind-the-scenes finagling to not have a leadership race, or at the very least to let him run in it, I was wrong to think that the PC execs would try to bend the rules in order to block a leadership race before the election, crowning Fedeli as the leader.  Now matter how tempting to block some outside interlopers (namely one in particular, mentioned below), there would be an insurrection from the party base and Ontario voters wouldn’t approve of voting for a party leader as the next premier without knowing they would still be in office four years down the road.

So now, to PC top brass’s horror, Doug Ford, revelling in ruffling feathers and dismissing formalities, crashed the party and declared at noon on Monday that on top of running for mayor of Toronto he’ll first try his luck at winning the PC leadership.

Everyone else is dipping their toes at this point, but it’s obvious a several other are already pretty much a go.

Caroline Mulroney has made her intentions known.  So has Monte McNaughton.  And now initial rumours are confirmed that Christine Elliott is thinking third time’s a charm, with a Facebook page “Draft Christine Elliott” created Monday indicating she’s still testing the waters.

Others, however, have dispelled rumours they’re also going to run.  Lisa Raitt and John Tory have both made known they won’t be seeking the premiership.  However, expect more candidates not mentioned here to run as well.  This is a golden opportunity for someone to go from leader of a provincial party to the premiership in the span of a few short months, something that usually takes years or a decade or two to accomplish.  That will be far too appetizing for the politically power-hungry to pass up.

Photo Credit: Toronto Star

More from Graeme C. Gordon   @GraemeCGordon

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