I was disappointed but not surprised to see Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak backtrack on his leadership race campaign promise to scrap the Ontario Human Rights Commission. When Hudak ran for the PC leadership in 2009, he said he favoured using courts to prosecute cases where legal niceties such as presumption of innocence and evidence are taken into consideration and thus get rid of the patently unfair HRCs. Alas, Hudak won’t be getting rid of the odious Ontario Human Rights Commission because, as the Globe and Mail explains, “Hudak now has his eye on a bigger prize that will require broader support.” There is a long history in both Canada and the United States of leadership hopefuls running on the right to win a nomination and then running to the center in an attempt to win in the general election. The assumption is that those who supported the candidate will continue doing so. I would suggest that voters on the Right punish this behaviour and stay home or to call party headquarters and make conditional donations — you will get $200 when HRCs are dismantled. Let the leaders and parties know that a campaign promise is not a political prop to buy voters only to be thrown aside in favour of another group of voters another time.
Broadening one’s appeal only makes sense if there is a gain at the margins; such gains cannot be made if parties and leaders lose some of their base in the process and it is entirely useless if they lose a sizable portion of their base. The equation is simple: movement on an issue occurs when broadened support is greater than support lost. It is up to the base to ensure that calculation ends up with a negative (more support lost than gained), so the party elite will look to other policy shifts to broaden support.