The campaign was a long one for me. I was a Progressive Conservative supporter who found himself on the opposite side of my party on two fairly substantive issues - electoral reform and extending funding to faith-based schools. The former was completely opposite. The latter, while I understood the fairness aspect and could support it, I'd have preferred a single secular public school system - Mr. Tory should have campaigned on that.
One of the things you never really get used to, as a partisan cheerleader, is exactly what triggers or does not trigger the electorate to move. If you had have asked me two months ago if allocating a whole 2.5% of a Conservative public education budget (or 2.8%, if you use the Liberal budget numbers) to funding faith-based schools like the Catholic school board or the Mennonite school in St. Catharines, I would have said you were nuts.
Shows to go you, I guess.
That said, the rest of the Progressive Conservative election platform was the right platform for Ontario. The Liberals have successfully branded themselves as "centrist" when in fact they are not - they are what you would call "anything to get elected-ist".
During this whole campaign, I can't remember a single thing Dalton McGuinty said, except for Family Day.
The Progressive Conservative Party must continue to embrace progressive conservatism. It must reconfirm that:
- The free market can determine and regulate many things, but the free market cannot govern social justice and social equality, and profit cannot be the driving factor behind education and health care. Those things require sound public investment.
- That individual freedoms must be protected and respected.
- Fiscal prudence doesn't mean tax cuts or program cuts every month. Fiscal prudence means simply spending when spending is required and not spending when it's not required. If a program is wasteful, or not generating results, you cease the bleed and review. We must recognize that we need sound public infrastructure, that we need sound public investment, we need to make sure that there's a basic fulfilment of public needs. And we can do that and return some of that money to taxpayers - we can eliminate wasteful spending, revitalize public spending, and return what's leftover. Those things are all possible all at once.