This was supposed to be a coronation for Christine Elliott. Instead, the queen in waiting pulled a Hillary Clinton circa 2008 and lost to a relatively unknown candidate, who out hustled and out organized her. And thoroughly destroyed Elliott in all parts of the province. Even in the GTA. Even in Ford Nation, notwithstanding the support of the Ford brothers.
I like Christine Elliott as a person. She has substance. She was a practicing lawyer, a business person, a mother who raised three sons, and a terrifically supportive partner of her husband Jim Flaherty. She has been a tireless campaigner for the Conservative cause and an excellent MPP for her riding.
Ms. Elliott has integrity. She has character. In sum, a mensch.
But she is not and has never been leadership material.
Notwithstanding all of Elliott’s strong qualities and intelligence, she performed very weakly at Queen’s Park. Her opponents Vic Fedeli and Lisa MacLeod – though not as well known as Ms. Elliott – day by day hammered the McGuinty and then the Wynne government over its many scandals: OLG, Ornge, the cancellation of the gas plants, the deletion of the emails, and MARS2.
For the most part, Elliott was missing in action. She just did not come across as tough and strong, even in opposition.
Despite all of Elliott’s experience and intelligence and alleged knowledge of the provincial issues, Elliott’s campaign was a disaster. She came across as painfully boring and a totally uninspiring speaker, reminiscent of the disastrous Olivia Chow, during her pathetic attempt to win the Toronto mayoral race.
What were Elliott and her brain trust thinking when they assumed the same Yonge Street location as the political headquarters of Olivia Chow? Talk about bad karma. Talk about guilt by location.
To a large extent Elliott snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. She showed very poor judgment in apparently just relying upon support from her caucus, who failed to deliver their own people in their own ridings. Elliott also seemed to just rely upon the same political advisers and political elites who were responsible for Tory defeats in the last four elections.
Talk about the gang who could not shoot straight!
To Brown’s credit, he was not another right wing tone-deaf socially conservative Tim Hudak clone.
To the surprise of Elliott and her people, Brown pulled a Jason Kenney and he went out to all the socially conservative new Canadian groups, in the 905 areas and beyond, and brought in a ton of new Conservative supporters, among the South Asian, Tamil, Arab, Muslim and Asian communities.
Brown and his people did what Elliott should have done. Gone out and brought in new members, from the ethnic communities who had gradually gravitated to the federal Conservative fold through the efforts of Kenney and Harper.
Instead, Elliott played it safe. She made few errors, but she was destroyed nonetheless.
Though the left wing media has and will paint Brown as a hard core right wing nut, he is and will be a formidable opponent to Premier Wynne. He is very likeable. He is charming. He is young, smart and very aggressive.
Not only did Brown attract thousands and thousands of new members from previously non Conservative communities. More importantly he and his organization were able to successfully get these new Conservatives to come out and vote – a true test of Brown’s organizational skills and formidable ground game, in this case reminiscent of Obama’s successful ground game.
Premier Wynne, be afraid. Be very afraid. Your time in office is well past due. And the new invigorated Conservatives are stronger than ever and they are coming after you and your scandal-ridden government.