What does Patrick Brown stand for?
With an election approaching in Ontario, that has become less of a question and more of cudgel used to attack the Progressive Conservative leader. Brown has seemed content to simply not be Kathleen Wynne.
At their policy convention in Toronto, the PCs surprised both pundits and opponents by outlining in detail precisely what Brown will do if he wins power in 2018.
READ MORE: Patrick Brown defends platform spending
It’s all contained in a 78 page flashy publication called People’s Guarantee that looks more like an Oprah magazine than a political document.
It’s easy to imagine Brown, complete with spiffy new haircut, channeling his inner Winfrey as he announces, “You get a tax cut! and you get a tax cut!”
The promise part of the glossy platform is if Brown doesn’t fulfil five key commitments by the end of his first term, he won’t seek another.
The big five are tax cuts, refunds for child care, hydro price reduction, money for mental health and more government accountability.
This isn’t Uncle Mike’s Common Sense Revolution, it’s Grandpa Bill’s Big Blue Machine. After four failed electoral campaigns courting the fiscal conservatives that brought Mike Harris to power, the Brownists have embraced Bill Davis and his calm middle-of-the-road appeal.
VIDEO: Ontario Progressive Conservative party lays out election promises
Under Brown it’s now capital P for Progressive, lower case c conservative.
Gone is language about restrained spending.
Cuts? What cuts?
Brown’s plan runs a deficit in the first year, creating the odd spectacle of Tories running on a promise of red ink, while the Liberals promise black. The PCs point to the Liberal nerd-battle with the Auditor General who claims government books are actually in the red because of a deadly dull accounting disagreement. That’s a distraction, because if Brown accepts the Auditor’s premise, then he’s simply promising a bigger deficit than currently exists.
It’s an admission that austerity equals electoral failure.
During a technical briefing on the platform for journalists, senior members of the PC team called the platform a reflection of Patrick’s personal priorities. No longer, they hope, will there be a need for answers about why he was once counted among the most socially conservative members of Stephen Harper’s government.
Have a magazine. How can someone with such progressive ideas in such pretty fonts be a social conservative?
How will there be tax cuts plus increased government services, the lampooned Pay Less Get More moment of Brown’s People’s Guarantee?
Have a magazine.
That’s what Patrick Brown stands for.
VIDEO: Patrick Brown promises hydro bill reduction by additional 12%