Following his rather convincing defeat in the recent provincial election, John Tory is, nevertheless, trying to hold on to his position as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party. That party would do well to look for another Tory to lead it.
In our November editorial, we chided John Tory for running a campaign devoid of the only leadership that matters: moral courage. He failed to distance himself from the Liberal premier, Dalton McGuinty, on any social issue whatsoever. And, given the choice between an honest liberal and an embarrassed –that is, “progressive” – conservative, voters across Ontario made the best of a bad choice.
John Tory’s current misplaced ambitions clearly demonstrate he misunderstands not only his own defeat, but also his party’s – and his province’s – dilemma. The symptoms of the looming, unspoken issues that face our nation are everywhere: teenage violence, cultural disintegration, disputes about the role of religion in public life. However, the causes of these problems are ignored. Political calculation and cowardice only exacerbates the underlying problems that haunt Canada: the systematic collapse of any recognizable moral order and the inability to affirm any set of traditional values, no matter how secular their origin.
John Tory clearly has no new answers to Ontario’s problems, and we hope that his party has better sense than to incur another defeat under the same banner. But, in the PC leadership contest that will soon follow, how long will it be before the media pre-empts the entire process, crowning one candidate among all others with that ambiguous adjective: “electable”?
Indeed, electability is the worst indicator by which a political candidate should be judged: it is a category invented by the media that only measures how our elites see the candidate. According to these elites, a politician espousing unfashionable positions will, by definition, be “un-electable.” However, the arguments for such positions alter the public’s perception of them. The pro-life position, for example, is only unpopular because it is not advanced. Certainly, “electablity” only indicates how vacuous a politician seems, measuring how full the candidate’s empty promises sound.
Public servants should not be cowed by opinion polls or media hype.
But pusillanimous politicians are only one half of the problem.
Political reporting in this country has become little better than celebrity gossip, seeking sound bytes that catch politicians in unflattering positions. And, if a politician advocates an unpopular position, he feels the full weight of the media’s scorn.
We hope that the Ontario PC party will choose a leader who is more concerned about moral principles than media perception and who will speak with clarity and conviction about the unspoken issues that matter most. Such a politician might even find himself electable.