CFN – Maddie Di Muccio, Newmarket Councilor and columnist had a take on the future leader of the PC Party in Ontario which she has graciously allowed us to reprint here on CFN.
In the wake of last week’s election debacle, now that the political obituaries have been written, it’s time for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party to look ahead. Here’s what’s at stake:
Timing: With a debt load estimated at up to $8 million, the biggest immediate challenge for the party will be fund raising.
While four more years of majority Liberal government may seem like a lifetime now, using it as an opportunity to raise money, re-build the Conservative brand and accumulate support is essential.
That means a leadership race, with contenders who can sell their vision to PC party members, should happen sooner rather than later.
Grassroots: Without their grassroots members, the PCs don’t have a brand. The beauty of party politics is that they create a big tent of ideas from fundamental principles designed to inspire people. The brutality of party politics is that they can become so insular, new ideas and potential supporters are shut out.
Besides collecting their fees, the PC party needs to listen carefully to its members. They come from all walks of life: parents, seniors, young people, from the private sector and, yes, even from the public one. It’s their job to tell the leadership what the province needs, and it’s the leader’s job to brand it and sell it to voters.
What a new leader should look like: The best lesson PCs can learn about their biggest weakness comes from what their opponent’s greatest strength was in the election. That was the ability of the Liberals to spread fear about the Mike Harris years at Queen’s Park.
The party needs a new leader who comes without the baggage of having served during the Harris era.
This is Ontario, where the left dominate the majority of seats in Toronto.
The worst thing the PC party could do is to select an old war horse as leader, someone with close ties to Tim Hudak, Harris or Stephen Harper.
(Recall here that Harper was an outsider when he successfully created the modern-day federal Conservative party, by uniting Red Tories and Reformers.)
Further, a new leader who isn’t a sitting MPP will have the time to travel the province and re-connect with the public, before seeking a seat in the Legislature.
With the Liberals now having a four-year majority government, scoring points in the Legislature isn’t as important as selling a PC vision of the future to Ontarians ahead of the next election.
Progressive Conservative governments won elections in Ontario for 42 consecutive years, from 1943 to 1985, because their leaders were able to appeal to Red Tories, Blue Tories and Blue Liberals. The next PC leader will have to do the same.
It would also be an excellent time for the PCs to consider electing their first female leader, as well as someone who can show she (or he) has the energy to rebuild the Conservative brand and lead the party back to power.
That’s a 10-year commitment, at least, and a lot of chicken dinners.
What was clear from the just-completed election was that Ontarians did want change.
If PCs elect a new leader from their current crop of MPPs, backed by the existing party elite, they’ll be electing another opposition leader.
If they choose someone new, articulate and energetic from outside the Conservative mainstream, they’ll be choosing the next premier of Ontario.
Maddie Di Muccio originally printed this piece in the Toronto Sun. She has graciously allowed us to reprint it here on CFN.
She is a municipal town councillor in Newmarket, and has been outspoken regarding transparent and accountable government, appearing on the Michael Coren Show, Newstalk 1010, AM 640, and various print media. Di Muccio has hosted local lectures on a series of “Empowering” groups of individuals and featuring prominent personalities, and was invited to speak on empowering females in politics at the Manning Network Convention for 2013.
She writes a bi-weekly column on GTA municipal issues in the Toronto Sun. As vice-president for Society for Quality Education, her priorities focus on children and youth issues and concerns. Di Muccio is the parent of three school-age boys.
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