Mulroney and Ford Prove Practice Makes Perfect

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Doug Ford is far from perfect, but he has shown that practice goes a long way in any profession, especially politics.  Caroline Mulroney, the inexperienced Ontario PC Party candidate, only stepping into the political arena several short months ago, contrasts Ford and further confirms the truism: practice makes perfect (or very good, at least).

If Mulroney announcing her candidacy during the Super Bowl — as if people would rather listen to a political neophyte’s speech about joining the race instead of enjoying the game with friends and family — wasn’t arrogant enough, she also thinks that she can go from her private life, become PC leader, then defeat a seasoned and formidable political opponent with decades of experience to become the next Ontario premier, all in a few month’s learning curve.  Even Justin Trudeau didn’t have this level of temerity (or hutzpah), first cutting his teeth as an MP for several years before deciding he had any business running for the Liberal Party of Canada leadership (people within the LPC had wanted him to run in the previous race).  Even more absurd is how Caroline Anne Mulroney Lapham is claiming she is her own person and is not running on her last name.  Although she is kind of right, she isn’t running on her last name, but her maiden name, her attempt to claim she isn’t using the Mulroney name to try to catapult herself to become new leader of the PCs and premier is laughable.  The only reason she, wrongly, thinks she can run and win is because of her family name.  If it weren’t true why would she be hosting three campaign fundraising events, at $1,200 a ticket, with her father as the special guest?

But the Mulroney name aside, Caroline Lapham, in her first week under the spotlight, has shown just how green she is as a politician.  In an interview with Toronto Sun’s Anthony Furey at the Manning Networking Conference on Friday, in which she repeatedly dodged answering questions, something she’s been doing throughout the week, Mulroney said, “”People are living in energy poverty, people have to choose between buying hockey equipment or going out to dinner with their families.”  This statement will likely come across as an out-of-touch elite not understanding the severe plight many Ontarian families are facing in making enough to cover the essentials, not luxuries like going out to a restaurant, but instead what Ford is saying about choosing between “heating and eating.”  At the beginning of Mulroney’s campaign she said she would implement the carbon tax as premier, only to suddenly flip-flop, following Ford’s lead in promising to scrap the carbon tax.  That sort of U-turn that early from a candidate isn’t something that will impress PC members, especially on something so loathed as the carbon tax and their heightened distrust of politicians after Brown turned out to be a turncoat.  Furthermore, Mulroney, attempting to bolster her resume, is claiming she has been working in the private sector for twenty years, despite her Linkedin account showing it’s actually around ten.

Earlier in the week Mulroney was interviewed by John Moore on Newstalk 1010.  When asked why she thought she was the best candidate in the race, Mulroney gave the following unconvincing answer, “Because I was the one that saw we needed to do something about it.  You know, this was clear to me years ago, and I decided to take a leave from work and put my name forward to be a candidate.  And I’ve been on the team since the beginning, and to keep this party united and make sure we deliver victory for the party and for Ontarians in June, we need someone who’s been on the team from the beginning, who has been working hard in the trenches.  And I know that’s what members want.  We also need something completely different.  You know, the Liberals have been in government for fifteen years and people are tired of it.”

Compare Mulroney’s response to Ford’s answer on Jerry Agar’s Newstalk 1010 show: “Well there are many reasons.  I’ll start off with — I’m the only person that is going to save the taxpayer’s money.  I’m the only person that’s run a budget of $12 billion dollars, day in and day out, saving taxpayers a billion dollars.  I’m going to get rid of the carbon tax.  I’m the only one that has actually said that I’m 100 per cent getting rid of the carbon tax.  It’s a terrible tax, terrible tax on businesses, terrible tax on people.  I’m going to make sure there is transparency and accountability down at Queen’s Park.  And, as we all know, there’s been zero transparency, zero accountability down at Queen’s Park.  I’m the only one that will be able to win seats in the 416 area code.  But not just 416, our message resonates with people even stronger in rural areas, the 705, 519, 613.  We have a great campaign team and we are going to bring prosperity back to this great province… The only person I’m going to attack is Kathleen Wynne and how she’s mismanaged billions of dollars.”

The contrast is striking.  Ford gets straight to point and harnesses the anger conservative Ontarians have for Wynne’s government, even if his claim of saving a billion dollars for Torontonians is suspect.  On the other hand, Mulroney floats around, saying her running and winning the PC candidacy, handed to her on a silver platter, less than a year ago, shows that she is somehow more committed than the other candidates.

I’ve left out Christine Elliott in this analysis because I think she’s already run twice and failed.  Furthermore, after losing last time, she decided to take a job with the Wynne government, which disqualify her from the get go in the eyes of PC members.

As harsh as my criticism for Mulroney has been, it should also be made clear that she has a very promising future in politics.  She comes across as a competent and independent woman on camera, and is both poised and articulate, but her messaging is all off and her story of why she should be the PC leader is unmoving at this point in time.

Ford has his flaws, but this far into the race he’s shown that his experience as a city counsellor, working there while his brother was mayor, has taught him the art of politicking.  Watch his recent appearance on TVO’s Political Blind Date and you’ll see he has come a long way from his more confrontational and blunt style from the past, even outshining the federal NDP leader throughout the show.

Ultimately, personal baggage won’t matter in this race (unless it is very serious, like it was in Brown’s case, and Ford has already been vetted).  What matters most to voters, whether they realize it or not, is whether or not a politician connects with them on a visceral level.  Ford Nation’s turn out, blue and white collar alike, people from all different backgrounds and ethnicities, shows that Ford is able to resonate with people.  Mulroney has not.

Photo Credit: Toronto Star

More from Graeme C. Gordon   @GraemeCGordon

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