COLUMN: Time to drop the “Progressive” in Progressive Conservative

SOUTH DUNDAS — One can easily argue that win 2015, we have one of the most progressive, Liberal governments provincially in Ontario history. Some in the province will wear that title as a badge of honour. The badge of being a progressive is not what it was 100 years ago.

Being a progressive in the 1900’s was about fairness. It was for workers rights, the rights of the poor, the right for women to vote. As the 20th Century advanced, being a progressive became about money, the Robin Hood mentality. Take from the rich who had too much, and give to those who did not. Who better to do that than the government, so government grew into a giant bureaucracy.

Being a progressive in the 21st Century has gone to the extreme left, the ideas of gender nullification, an expanded government that cares for you from the cradle-to-the-grave. The progressive ideas of the 20th Century have largely been implemented. That is why the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario (PCPO) needs to remove the “Progressive” from its name.

A quick history lesson is needed here. In 1942, the Progressive Party of Canada, an extension in part of the successful Progressive Party of Manitoba, merged with the floundering Conservative Party to create the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada(PC) under the leadership of John Bracken. The PC’s were formed as a coalition of two loser parties trying to beat out Mackenzie-King and his big red Liberal machine. Where have we heard that language since? Until the 1950’s, provincial parties were merely extensions of their federal counterparts.

However it is 2015, and the provincial PC’s have had their butts handed to them not once, not twice, or even three times but four consecutive elections. Three leaders of the PC’s have failed to lead the PC party to victory, two of those leaders, Tory and Hudak, had the lead over the provincial Liberals when the writ was dropped, and fumbled the ball on election day. Was it just the leadership that failed, or was it the party as well? It was both.

Mike Harris won in 1995 because of a simple and clear conservative message. He ignored the progressive, and Ontarians voted for him. The Ontario Liberals have the progressive part down pat. They are the progressives and Ontarians will be feeling the financial pain of their brand of progressive for a long time.

In order to win in 2018; in order to beat the progressive Liberals; one cannot challenge progressive ideas with progressive ideas. You have to be different. You have to show a clear alternative in what is being voted for. In 2014, you have the choice between progressive socialist (Horwath) progressive liberal (Wynne) and progressive conservative (Hudak). There was nothing substantially different between the three parties.

In order to win, the new leader of the PCPO is going to have to be different. He or she is going to have to lead differently, and present a platform of policies that stand out from the progressive-pap that the Liberals are selling. One of the best ways to do that, is to shuck the “Progressive” out of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, and simplify on a core-set of conservative principles. It worked in 1995 for Mike Harris, and it will work for whomever becomes leader of the PCPO in May.


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