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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Friday, June 13, 2014

An election post-mortem

Some random thoughts about last night's catastrophe.
  1. So-called social-conservative issues like gay marriage, abortion and the "war on religion" were not, to my knowledge, mentioned once in the campaign. This is a good thing, and the PCs need to continue doing this. If the party hopes to break out of its rural fortress and appeal to urban voters, let sleeping dogs lie.
  2. Speaking of urban voters, I had a look at the electoral map this morning, and it is telling. Liberal support is almost exclusively urban, concentrated in the Toronto/Hamilton corridor, metro Ottawa, and university towns like Kitchener-Waterloo and London (which were shared with the NDP). The NDP's support is mostly in Northern Ontario, Windsor, eastern Niagara (all economically depressed), and a few urban ridings. The rest of the rural, sparsely-populated province is Tory blue. The PC party needs to wake up to this fact: if it can't come up with a coherent fiscally-responsible platform that appeals to urban voters and isn't delivered by someone who reminds them of Jethro Clampett, then it is doomed for the forseeable future. 
  3. I'm sure Tim Hudak is a nice guy, but he's a terrible campaigner and I'm glad he resigned last night. Every time I saw him on TV I cringed, what with his rictus grin, his constant hand-waving and his wooden "Bueller ... Bueller ... anyone?" delivery. Winston Churchill he ain't. I wish him well, but he's been a big disappointment as leader. In addition, the wonks who run the party should also fall on their swords. There needs to be a purge of the party organization and a complete re-tooling. As Talleyrand said of the last Bourbon monarchs of France - "they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing".
  4. Memo to the PC party:  GO NEGATIVE for God's sake!!! Hudak's decision to run a positive campaign and concentrate on his platform was a huge mistake. The past two elections have seen the PCs up against an ethically and morally bankrupt incumbent government that is running the province into the ground, propped up for the last two years by the NDP, and yet Hudak barely mentioned that glaring fact. Voters should have been confronted daily by the Liberal party's long record of malfeasance and outright chicanery. Somewhere at Harvard Dalton McGuinty is laughing into his soy decaf latté.
  5. Hudak's biggest mistakes were the promise to cut 100 000 jobs from the civil service and the "Million Jobs Plan". Attaching nice round numbers to the platform, seemingly pulled out of a hat, practically invited criticism. The job cuts figure allowed the opposition to trot out the supposed widows and orphans who would be hurt or outright killed by Scary Tim, and the Million Jobs platform brought out the opposition bean counters who picked apart the statistics and handed the Liberals their "Bad Math" slogan. Hudak lost control of the debate at that point and it became bogged down in trivial arguments among ivory tower academics. Hudak then doubled down, promising to resign in two years if his goals weren't met - this smacked of desperation. The platform should be made up of broad ideological principles and goals like personal liberty, fiscal responsibility, easing the regulatory load on business, and  lower taxes. The Liberal platform was devoid of both hard numbers AND ideological principles, and they were returned with a majority - go figure.
  6. There is a small silver lining; for the next four years Kathleen Wynne now owns the mess her party created. It's with a certain amount of schadenfreude that I'll watch her twist and squirm as she has to deal with the credit rating agencies and the public sector unions without having the NDP to kick around anymore. 
Ontario is in for a world of hurt, and if from the ruins the PCs can't craft a viable alternative in 2018, then we don't deserve to form the government. And now, I'm going to cry in my beer.