TORONTO - When, and if, Patrick Brown’s “tell all” book about his political assassination is released in early Fall, the public may get a better insight into the motivations behind the current political drama, machinations and political turmoil unfolding in Ontario.
Seven months ago, Brown was running high in the polls as the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. He was headed for the Premier’s chair and a majority government at Queen’s Park - the one now occupied by one of his harshest critics, former best friend, Doug Ford.
The political apparatus he had meticulously built up turned on him. Ironically, in an age of “anything goes” sexual morality, allegations – unproven - of “sexual improprieties” did him in. He subsequently inherited every fault, every sin, every suspicion of nefarious, despicable conduct our citizenry could heap upon him.
His greatest shortcoming? He did not come across as a “strong leader (man)”. Neither did Kathleen Wynne, nor for that matter, Andrea Horwath nor any of the other candidates who surfaced to replace him. Doug Ford did.
As is typically the case with such “strong leaders”, process becomes an inconvenience, a minor obstacle in the way of an objective near and dear to he/she who wields the sceptre of power. The rule of law, so to speak, gives way to the rule of power. Courage founded on “shared rights for all and privileges to none” treads ever more carefully.
Among democratically elected leaders, Donald Trump, in the USA, has power. Matteo Salvini in Italy has it, although less securely so.
More tempered leaders, like Elizabeth May in England and Angela Merkel in Germany are facing the prospect of losing it.
Being at the head of a democratically elected majority in a legislature affords leaders like Doug Ford control of any “procedural niceties” that Constitutions demand as a prerequisite to mitigating negative reactions and “rebellion”.
Yesterday’s introduction of a reformed law to permit what Premier Ford had announced as the de facto rule for the upcoming Municipal elections is a case in point. Toronto City Council (and perhaps others) may wish to contest the Premier in Court, but aside from providing work for some constitutional lawyers …
What Ford has effectively done is accomplish a public humiliation of the leadership in potentially irksome municipalities during his [first] mandate: Toronto, York and Peel.
In Toronto, Councillor will be pitted against Councillor. Some of them mutual friends, friends, or even relatives, of the Premier. There is no guarantee that the outcome will result in a Council supportive of the Premier. What is probably certain is that Mayor John Tory, should he emerge victorious, will devote himself to ensuring that the Province assume all responsibility for any setbacks Toronto may incur in the next four years.
The only “serious” opponent to his re-election, Jennifer Keesmaat, former Chief Planner, although staring at a 30% popularity rating, will probably have difficulty resonating north of Dundas St. Credible sources suggest she was motivated by both PC and Liberal powerbrokers to go after her former boss.
In Vaughan, another former senior bureaucrat, Frank Miele, has registered to take on the incumbent mayor, Maurizio Bevilacqua. The latter, once a Liberal, has built alliances with local Conservatives, but Miele is part of Ford Nation, one of the first to board his bandwagon.
Aside from any expertise he may bring to the challenge, he is also very close to Minister Tibullo and his Ford Nation Team, which includes the Developer community not already in Mr. Bevilacqua’s campaign team.
The Premier will not brook other “powerful” – elected – Regional representatives like the Chair of York or Peel.
Hence Patrick Brown, rehabilited or not, will have to content himself with the potential Mayoralty of Brampton. The bonus is that he too will have to sweep aside a Liberal.
Brown may yet still be converted into an ally, once the details of his tell-all book raise the spectres of foul, behind-the-scenes skulduggery plotted by partisans who would not have been friends of Ford.
They apparently run through Ottawa.