Jonathon Van Maren

From the front lines of the culture wars


Liberals are terrified of Doug Ford. If he beats Kathleen Wynne, their narrative collapses.

When the media pushed Ford, he didn’t do what most politicians do—back down.
Mon Mar 12, 2018 - 9:33 am EST
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Doug Ford TVO / screen-grab

March 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The long, messy race to replace Patrick Brown as the leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party is finally over. 

To sum up quickly: Brown was ousted by his colleagues after sexual misconduct allegations in January, and social conservative Tanya Granic Allen, two-time PC leadership contender and former MPP Christine Elliot, city councilor Doug Ford, and PC candidate Caroline Mulroney joined the race to replace him. Then, Brown filed to enter the leadership to replace himself hours before the deadline, before departing the race again just over a week later. On Saturday, after an agonizing recount process due to the impossibly close results, Doug Ford emerged victorious—although Christine Elliot apparently considered challenging the results and didn’t concede the race to Ford until Sunday afternoon.

The mainstream media, as usual, has been thrown into disarray by these results. Doug Ford was not supposed to win, and Tanya Granic Allen was not supposed to do as well as she did—nearly beating Caroline Mulroney. The last several races, including the federal Conservative leadership race, have indicated the strength of the social conservative base, and the commentariat seems perennially shocked that so many of them exist. Paul Wells of Maclean’s magazine, who had previously tweeted that a Doug Ford victory was impossible, wrote an eloquent essay eating crow shortly after the leadership results were leaked, referring to Allen as “the impressive social conservative upstart”:

But there is in Ford and Granic Allen a little bit of what Stephen Harper had…the unnerving sense that they believe things, and they don’t much feel like bartering those beliefs away for magic beans. It was Elliott and Mulroney, after all, who tailored their position on carbon taxes to match Ford’s… As for Granic Allen, I was surprised by how many people at Saturday’s event wanted to remind me that in last year’s federal Conservative leadership race, the two social-conservative candidates, Brad Trost and Pierre Lemieux, won 20 per cent of first-round support in Ontario between them. That suggests there are a lot of Christian conservatives in Ontario. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Granic Allen showed herself an effective advocate for their views.

Just as the social conservative vote contributed significantly to Scheer’s victory, over 80% of Tanya Granic Allen’s supporters (myself included) ranked Doug Ford second. Rob Silver noted on Twitter that, “…like Andrew Scheer, Doug Ford only won because of social conservatives. That’s not a pejorative, it’s a fact.” Adam Radwanski in the Globe and Mail noted that “social-conservative candidate Tanya Granic Allen proved kingmaker.” Candice Malcolm of the Toronto Sun noted the same thing, tweeting the results with the observation: “Pro-lifers. Don’t underestimate them.” And Scott Reid noted that, “Earlier this week, I thought Doug Ford’s move to embrace pro-lifers and re-open the abortion debate would cost him the PCPO leadership. Turns out it won him the job.” 

Which brings us to another remarkable fact: This is the first provincial party leader in recent memory to have publicly indicated his openness to pro-life legislation—in this case, parental consent laws for abortion. Even more significantly, when the media pushed Ford, he didn’t do what most politicians do—back down. Instead, he made a common-sense pitch for why this would be good legislation, telling the reporter that, “Most procedures in this province require a minor to have the consent of a parent. I can’t think of a more life-changing procedure for a young woman than abortion. I think that this is an important discussion to have.” The reporter, seemingly surprised that Ford was actually willing to defend this policy, had no response.

If Ford continues to defend parental consent laws by presenting them as common-sense policies that those from all ends of the spectrum can agree on, he will discover that even many pro-choice Canadians do not have a problem with such regulations. That is why the media and abortion activists are already attempting, ridiculously, to portray this as Ford “re-opening the abortion debate,” which he obviously is not. Parental consent laws have nothing to do with the legality of abortion, and the passage of such a law would not impact Canada’s abortion regime, which permits abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. But the radicalism of Canada’s abortion extremists does not even allow them to admit that there is a problem with the fact that children who wouldn’t be able to get Tylenol from a school nurse without permission could be driven by that school nurse to an abortion clinic without first informing the parents (an actual scenario that does take place.)

Doug Ford has not been a social conservative throughout his career, as many have already noted. But what is true is that Ford dislikes all the people who despise social conservatives. The Toronto elites and the media spent years crucifying his younger brother Rob Ford during his years as a councilor and mayor and rejoiced with a positively carnivorous glee as his personal demons consumed his political career. Patrick Brown was desperate to be accepted by the media and the elites—when the Toronto Star published a positive article on the People’s Guarantee, he missed no opportunity to mention it wherever he went. On the other hand, it is highly unlikely that Ford will be swayed by pressure from the very people who have openly despised his family for years.

The media has already begun handwringing and over-the-top Donald Trump comparisons, a combination of their genuine fear that a populist candidate could succeed in Canada and the ironic realization on their part that Trump’s name brings readers on this side of the border, too. What the media (and the Red Tories) will do next is attempt to domesticate Doug Ford, trying with all their might to convince him that the only way he can succeed and become premier is to become just like them. After all, if Doug Ford wins by running against the carbon tax, reaching out to the average hurting voter, and embracing social conservatives, the careful narrative they have been constructing for two decades—that these things are too toxic for Canada and that a politician who runs on such a platform cannot get elected—will implode, and in Canada’s most populous province to boot.

Regardless of which way you look at it, social conservatives are in a much better position than they were when the year began. Patrick Brown, the perennial antagonist of anything truly conservative, is gone. Tanya Granic Allen proved an incredibly effective advocate for social conservative positions, persuasively articulating the problems with Kathleen Wynne’s sex-ed curriculum to large crowds and in the media. And the PC party thoroughly repudiated the spineless lack of principle that defined Brown’s leadership by selecting Doug Ford as his successor. 

Already, those who claimed Doug Ford could never win the leadership are predicting that he won’t be able to beat Kathleen Wynne. I’m not so sure. Perhaps, after years of mismanagement, corruption, and skyrocketing costs, Ontario voters are fed up—fed up enough to send Ford Nation to Queen’s Park.

  doug ford, ontario, social conservatives

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