As a person who would normally prefer to vote PC, this is quite likely to be a very difficult election for you. Most conservative Kingstonians are Progressive Conservatives in the true sense of the term. But sadly, Canada’s Conservative parties today are no longer the parties of Bill Davis and Flora MacDonald. If it’s any consolation, I personally voted for Flora because of the person she was and the values she lived.
Kingston PCs are by and large not drawn to populist politicians like Doug Ford. If you are unhappy about having Mr. Ford as party leader, you’re not alone. According to the official leadership vote posted on the PC Party of Ontario website, Doug Ford was the least-favoured of the candidates in voting by Kingston and the Islands conservative delegates. He came in dead last on the first count, behind even the relatively unknown social conservative activist Tanya Allen, and almost all his gains on subsequent ballots would have been second choices after Ms. Allen was eliminated in the province-wide tally. What these numbers mean is that only 15% of Kingston PC voters were sufficiently comfortable with Mr. Ford’s leadership to mark him as their first choice. Another 14% were willing to consider him their second choice, only 2% their third choice and an astonishing 69% either made him their last choice or refused to mark him at all[*].
And if you are a fiscal conservative, Mr. Ford’s recent spate of hugely expensive promises with absolutely no thought to where the money will come is likely giving you heartburn. Just like Donald Trump’s driving the already-massive US national debt to unprecedented levels, Doug Ford would rack up Ontario’s debt levels even higher than Andrea Horwath’s NDP.
So what can you do, especially in light of Kathleen Wynne’s forthright June 2 acknowledgement that she will no longer be Premier after June 7? You might choose to focus on your local candidate, Gary Bennett, who is far from being a populist. But, in introducing Mr. Ford to Kingston PCs on April 17th, he unambiguously referred to him as “My friend and your friend, the next Premier of Ontario”. With those words, he made it clear that a vote for Gary Bennett in this election is a vote to make Doug Ford Premier. He has repeatedly responded to questions about Mr. Ford by implying that, if elected, he and other PC MPPs could be counted on to keep Mr. Ford on track. That, sadly, is more fantasy than reality. Recall what little success anyone has had in managing Donald Trump or, for that matter, the Ford brothers in Toronto when Rob Ford was mayor. Recall as well how little real influence Conservative MPs had during the Stephen Harper years.
The optimum outcome for Ontario is now clearly a Legislature in which neither the PCs nor the NDP enjoy a majority. And the best strategy for Kingston voters to contribute to that outcome is to re-elect Sophie Kiwala. She is an MPP to be proud of, one who has earned our votes by the way she has comported herself, her proven effectiveness in her role and all that she has done for our community and fellow Kingstonians. She’s a lot like Flora MacDonald in that respect. In particular, Sophie’s proven ability to work well with MPPs of all parties in order to get things done will be invaluable in the fractious Legislature which is likely to result from this election.