Tories’ pol­icy vi­sions fall far short of ideal

The Expositor (Brantford) - - NEWS - — David Reevely

The On­tario Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives look as though they’ll fin­ish nearly two years of de­cid­ing what they stand for with­out much more idea than they had go­ing in.

Next month they’ll study a list of 139 pol­icy res­o­lu­tions at a con­ven­tion in Toronto, lay­ing ground­work for the 2018 elec­tion cam­paign. They’re not pol­icy yet, and party pol­icy is not a cam­paign plat­form. The Tories started this at an Ottawa con­ven­tion in late win­ter 2016, where leader Pa­trick Brown promised one of the most mem­ber-driven pol­icy pro­cesses in his­tory.

It’s nor­mal for some res­o­lu­tions on such lists to be po­lit­i­cally sui­ci­dal, con­tra­dic­tory, goofy or all of the above. But res­o­lu­tions do give a sense of where a party’s col­lec­tive head is at, what virtues it wants to sig­nal.

Res­o­lu­tions aren’t bind­ing: un­der Tim Hu­dak in 2014, the “Mil­lion Jobs Plan” that was cen­tral to the cam­paign landed on can­di­dates and ac­tivists like a cin­der block. Brown has sworn not to re­peat that.

It’s not ideal that it’s more a list of vi­sion state­ments than plans to achieve them.

One thing the Tories will still lack af­ter their pol­icy con­ven­tion is a cli­mate-change pol­icy. Brown favours pric­ing car­bon pol­lu­tion through a rev­enue-neu­tral car­bon tax. That still leaves a lot of ques­tions.

What would the On­tario Tories tax? Would they fo­cus on in­dus­try or in­clude gaso­line and nat­u­ral gas? Would the tax be enough to make a dif­fer­ence or just for show? The list of res­o­lu­tions has zero ideas about this, prob­a­bly be­cause there’s no Tory con­sen­sus that cli­mate change is even a prob­lem.

Per­haps you’d like some in­sight into Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive health-care pol­icy.

“PC Party pol­icy is to en­sure bet­ter care for de­men­tia pa­tients.” And “PC Party pol­icy is to re­duce over­crowd­ing in our hospi­tals and elim­i­nate hall­way health-care by pro­vid­ing On­tar­i­ans with preven­tion pro­grams, more ef­fec­tive ac­cess to timely care and bet­ter use of our health-care providers.” But how?

There’s noth­ing about pre­car­i­ous jobs, the “shar­ing econ­omy,” pen­sions and retirement.

Cli­mate change, elec­tric­ity prices, health care and the fu­ture of work are some of the cen­tral problems any govern­ment in On­tario will ei­ther have to tackle or con­sciously de­cide not to. A big messy pol­icy con­ven­tion should be the time to hash th­ese things out, lis­ten to ev­ery­one, make a de­ci­sion to­gether. If you’re go­ing to have a fam­ily scrap, do it now, not in mid-cam­paign.

Con­ser­va­tives are sup­posed to be the tough but smart ones, in con­trast to the Lib­er­als’ well-mean­ing loose-pursed in­com­pe­tence. Time’s start­ing to run out.

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