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Q&A: new Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown on what he stands for (and what Snoop Dogg thinks of him)

Patrick Brown

(Image: Erin Leydon)

You emerged from relative obscurity to win the Ontario PC leadership in a landslide. Get us up to speed: who are you and where did you come from?
I’ve been a Conservative party soldier at various levels for the last 22 years. I got my law degree in Windsor, spent two terms on Barrie council and then three terms in the House of Commons. I was so frustrated after the Ontario PC party’s defeat that I decided to get involved.

Your dad ran federally for the NDP; your mom was a schoolteacher. How did you wind up a diehard Conservative?
I wrote a letter to Brian Mulroney in grade school about acid rain. He responded, and I liked what he said. I told my parents, “I think I agree with the Conservative party.”

They didn’t try to sway you to the left?
No. They were just happy that I took an interest in politics. In fact, my dad has since become a Conservative.

Who is your Conservative patron saint?
It’s hard to pick just one. If I could patch together various Conservative qualities, I’d say Jean Charest’s passion, John A. Macdonald’s nation-building, Narendra Modi’s ability to link education to employment, and Thatcher’s boldness.

You attended St. Michael’s College for high school. Are you religious?
Not really. I was more into hockey.

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Philip Preville: Why Kathleen Wynne needs Rob Ford

If Kathleen Wynne is to achieve anything for Toronto—and transit is top of the list—she needs Rob Ford to knock around


The Good Fight: if Kathleen Wynne is to achieve anything for Toronto—and transit is top of the list—she needs Rob Ford to knock around
Back in mid-June, when the crack scandal had brought Rob Ford to his knees, it was Premier Kathleen Wynne who, with a few carefully chosen words, made his problems go away. She said publicly that she wanted to repair the rifts between them and that she would not “stand in judgment” of his personal or legal troubles. He could not have asked for a better endorsement. If the premier doesn’t care about a crack video, why should anyone else? The scandal was stashed in the bushes alongside his speech slurrings, conflict-of-interest court dramas and the rest.

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An Etobicoke-based, conservative, Rob Ford ally named Doug is running for a provincial seat

(Image: Christopher Drost)

No, not that Doug. Toronto deputy mayor Doug Holyday thrilled Progressive Conservatives yesterday by signing on to run in this summer’s Etobicoke-Lakeshore byelection. He’ll be facing off against fellow executive committee council member Peter Milczyn, who’s representing the Liberals. Although Holyday hasn’t actively campaigned in 15 years (last election, he took more than 70 per cent of the vote without spending a penny), the veteran councillor immediately issued a savvy opening salvo: he promised to forgo his council paycheck for the duration of the campaign, prompting Milczyn to follow suit a few hours later. He also has Rob Ford ready and waiting to start banging on doors on his behalf.

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Q&A: Liberal leadership front-runner Sandra Pupatello on traffic, the TTC and marrying a Newfoundlander

Sandra Pupatello was McGuinty’s pit bull for eight years before decamping to the private sector. Now she’s back, gunning for his seat, and fierce as ever

Q&A: is this our next premier?You’re trying to take over the Liberal party at a perilous time. The province has a $14.4-billion deficit and a scandal around every corner. What on earth is possessing you
to run?

Politics is in my DNA. There were a number of galvanizing factors, too: the threat that the Liberals might lose the next election, the fact that Ontarians are afraid of losing their jobs and that university grads can’t find work in their fields.

You were an MPP for 16 years. A year and a half ago, when the Liberals were polling badly, you left to work at PricewaterhouseCooper. Suddenly McGuinty quits and you’re back. Are people wrong to see you as an opportunist?
I wasn’t considering a run until party members started calling me. Plus, leading the province won’t be easy. We’re in for some
tough times.

You were McGuinty’s pit bull—“a scrapper,” as you’ve put it. Where does that moxie come from?
When I started as an MPP in 1995, there weren’t very many women. If you didn’t stand up for yourself they shoved you out of the way, and I couldn’t let that happen. I’m a daughter of Italian immig­rants. I’m from Windsor, and people associate me with a tough city. I wear that like a badge of honour.

In your 20s, you were a cashier at A&P—
Damn straight. And I was good! My manager called me Speedy Gonzalez because I’d whip customers through. Later, when I was campaigning door to door, I knew lots of constituents from those days. I could usually recall their grocery lists, too.

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Glen Murray and Kathleen Wynne are running for the Ontario Liberal Party leadership

Glen-Murray-Kathleen-Wynne-Ontario-Liberal-leadershipThe race to be the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party is now, finally, an actual race. Three weeks quietly passed following Dalton McGuinty’s resignation as Ontario’s premier before any of his political brethren launched a leadership bid. Then, in the space of 24 hours, a pair of contenders revealed their candidacy: Toronto-Centre MPP Glen Murray broke the silence Sunday night and Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne will follow suit early this evening. Wynne already received an endorsement from Liberal caucus member David Zimmer, who tweeted his early approval, while Murray had former RIM CEO Jim Balsillie and former health minister and failed mayoral candidate George Smitherman in the crowd when he announced his bid at Maple Leaf Gardens. At this very early juncture, we’re going to say Wynne’s off to the better start, purely from PR perspective. Having Balsillie and Smitherman’s support would be a certain boon for a politician mounting a leadership bid back in 2007. Today, we’re not so sure.

(Images: Glen Murray, Shaun Merritt; Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

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The Moment: Dalton McGuinty’s emergency exit

The Moment: McGuinty’s Emergency Exit

(Image: George Pimentel)

During his nine years as premier, Dalton McGuinty displayed a magical ability to maintain the squeaky clean persona of Premier Dad—that smiling paternalist whose ramrod-straight affect evoked a grown-up Michael Cera in a suit—while all hell broke loose around him. The eHealth boondoggle may have cost David Caplan his cabinet post and spiked George Smitherman’s run for mayor, but it never stuck to McGuinty. The same goes for the ORNGE scandal, from which McGuinty walked away with hardly a scratch. Over the past few months, Energy Minister Chris Bentley has become the public face of the cancelled power plants fiasco, and Education Minister Laurel Broten has morphed into the teachers’ favourite super­-villain. Of course, you don’t stay premier for three terms without knowing how to bob and weave, but McGuinty’s decision to lock up the legislature as he stepped down was the first time he’s taken a direct hit for his party rather than the other way around. The unions will eventually settle, the Liberals will elect a new leader, and life will go on. McGuinty’s lasting image as premier, however, will be marred by the ignominious way he went out.