New organization vows to be heard
Working Ontario Women hopes to avoid a Trumpian outcome in next year’s vote
Call it the WOW factor.
A well-financed, new organization called Working Ontario Women (WOW) is set to launch a new ad blitz to prevent a Trumpian outcome in next June’s Ontario election.
Bankrolled by the powerful Service Employees International Union, which has two million members in North America and has supported the governing Liberals in the past, WOW will be advertising on television and online in the coming days.
It appears to be modelled on, but separate from, the Working Families coalition of unions that has helped swing the past four Ontario elections to the Liberals with ads attacking the Progressive Conservatives.
While campaign financing rules imposed in the wake of a Star probe have placed spending limits on socalled third-party groups such as Working Families, new organizations such as WOW are springing up.
“What happened in the States was the catalyst really for putting together this organization,” said WOW’s Megan Lorius, referring to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory over Hillary Clinton.
“That is a great cautionary tale and (I hope) that people are paying attention in Canada,” Lorius said Thursday. “We don’t want to be complacent ourselves; we can get into our own bubble and think, ‘Oh, it won’t happen to us.’ We don’t want to make that same mistake here.”
To that end, WOW’s ads will urge voters to vote for progressive candidates who “elevate women’s issues and advocate for women’s rights.”
Lorius said the non-partisan group is particularly concerned about protecting a woman’s right to choose (whether to carry a baby to term), even though all the major political parties support abortion rights.
“Women understand what the potential is for losing some rights in the next election,” said Lorius.
That has resurfaced as an Ontario political issue because when Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown was a Conservative MP in 2012, he voted in favour of a motion to reopen the abortion debate.
Although Brown actively courted social conservatives during his successful 2015 campaign for the Tory leadership, he has since changed his stance and is now pro-choice.
To underscore that, the Conservatives will not allow any such divisive social issues to be debated at their policy convention in Toronto on Nov. 25.
“Any policy that attempts to limit a woman’s right to choose or the ability of same-sex couples to marry are off limits. Period,” said Brown, in an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this week.
Liberal Deputy Premier Deb Matthews warned voters should be wary.
“You can’t run from your record,” Matthews said of Brown’s past votes in the Commons opposing abortion and same-sex marriage.
The anti-abortion group Campaign Life Coalition expressed outrage that social issues will not be up for discussion at the PC conference next month.
“How can economic conservatives, democratic conservatives or any member of the voting public, for that matter, trust a man so willing to cheat his own membership out of a fair vote?” said Jack Fonseca, the organization’s political strategist. “Just imagine how corrupt he could become with the power of the premiership.”