Thursday, April 30, 2009

Debate in Fergus

Last night I was at the Fergus Legion to hear the Ontario PC Leadership candidates here's what they had to say in order of table position:

Randy Hillier - Wasn't able to make it. That's a shame, I've never seen him speak I was looking forward to finding out what makes the rebel tick. Fortunately the event host, Ted Arnott, read a statement from Randy. It was short but bold. He called the McGuinty plan to replace the Provincial Sales Tax with a Harmonized Sales Tax while not decreasing the overall rate a 'colossally stupid' idea.

The cornerstone of his message was conscience legislation that would allow professionals to refrain from actions they don't believe in. For example it would guarantee that a doctor, nurse or pharmacist would not be forced to participate in a chemical, or surgical abortion. It would guarantee a priest, minister, or justice of the peace would not be forced to marry a same sex couple. I wanted to ask the other candidates what they thought of this position, but I was too shy. Regardless of the outcome of the leadership race, I think this is a winning issue, it's a matter of fairness and fundamental freedoms and it should be a core part of any policy platform.

Likewise, Randy's comments on Human Rights Commissions were bang on. It's time to dismantle them because their rulings consistently plow over fundamental freedoms such as freedom of speech and religion.

Christine Elliot - Was very well spoken and professional. I could see myself sitting across from her at a meeting table and accomplishing a lot. She was the candidate I knew the least about going into the meeting and I was very impressed. I actually started the applause during her opening statement when she endorsed increasing the provincial income tax deduction for charitable donations. I think it's an excellent idea charities can be far more nimble and do far more good than a government program.

Tim Hudak - Looked and acted like the leader. His opening speech was packed with energy and policy statements. He aggressively went after Premier McGuinty and for a moment it felt like I was at a campaign rally with a week before the election. During the question and answer session he answered a question about being a leader with a heart by giving the example of a 5 year old who had a condition that required expensive prescription drugs in order to walk and he delivered the story very well. Frank Klees had answered the same question in a similar way, but Tim was definitely more engaging on that point. The other thing was Tim seemed most informed about Agriculture, Christine Elliot was out of her depth on that one.

Frank Klees - Is a statesman. He's the real deal and he leveraged his experience with the party and building a business to send a very strong message that he could be the leader and he could be premier. He started out by describing his guiding principles of individual responsibility and social responsibility, and that was well done. He also described his involvement with the party and the policy development process that brought about the Common Sense Revolution. He told us how he will reinvigorate the process so that the policies the party brings forward in the next election will be tested and relevant. He's absolutely right. Detailed policy pronouncements right at the beginning of the campaign cannot possibly be tested.

When a question came up about funding faith based schools, the controversial issue that is credited with losing the last election, Frank answered it best. He said that if the policy had gone through the proper development process it either would have died, or it would have been developed tested and understood by all the party members. Either way the last election would have turned out differently.

I have decided who I'm supporting, but I've gotta get to work. I'll let you know who I'm voting for tonight.

UPDATE: I had called Christine Brenda. I'm not sure where that came from. Thanks to the commenters for calling me on it. The text is now correct.


Anonymous said...

I believe it's Christine Elliot

Simeon (Sam) George Drakich said...

Christine Elliot = John Tory

Anonymous said...

Brenda? If you can't get her name right I suspect that means you're not backing her:)

Patrick O'Neil said...

BUSTED! I'll be making that change in her name.

Owen said...

Off topic but....Fergus. Ah how the heart warms. Mom lives just down the road in the "other" village. Each time we visit we attend Mass where Fr. Ian, a remarkable priest, is pastor. Were it in any way possible our family would "so" move back up there.

Anonymous said...

Christine is not the only "red tory" in the race. So says Frank:

"Frank Klees is selling memberships to Ontario Progressive Conservatives in the lead up to the vote for a new leader, a vote that Klees hopes to win.

He figures he has a good chance of winning support in Kingston because of the colour of his politics.

Kingston has a history of electing Tory candidates that lean a little to the left, known as Red Tories. Although Klees won't say the words, he hints that's how he might be described.

"I'm a Progressive Conservative and that's what I've been since I became a member of this party," Klees said yesterday over a coffee at the Tim Hortons on Division Street.

Klees said a progressive conservative believes in being fiscally responsible and socially responsible.

Klees said the provincial Tories have lost their identity as being progressive. He said changes to the party's identity have confused Ontarians over the years and eroded support."

Patrick O'Neil said...

Owen - You're right, Fr Ian Rocks.

Anon, Frank is not a Red tory, he just refuses to be labelled. I'll admit that those lines sound wishy washy but he's run on conservative platforms before and the policy development process will bring good 'blue' policies forward.