Opinion

Blizzard

Dreary PC leadership campaign gets a boost

By Christina Blizzard, Special to the Sun

Paul Godfrey, left, and Derek Burney, right, announce their support on Thursday, April 2, 2015 for PC leadership candidate Patrick Brown. (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)

Paul Godfrey, left, and Derek Burney, right, announce their support on Thursday, April 2, 2015 for PC leadership candidate Patrick Brown. (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)

TORONTO - 

PC leadership candidate Patrick Brown got a huge boost to his campaign from two prominent Conservative power-brokers Thursday.

Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey and Derek Burney, former ambassador to the U.S., former chief of staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and key adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, held a news conference in support of Brown.

What was most evident was their frustration with the provincial party and the way it’s alienated so many groups — unions, teachers, public servants.

“This party in the past number of years has picked fights with labour, which aren’t necessary,” Godfrey told reporters.

“You can sit down and talk to them. You can differ with them. You can agree with them, but the fact is you have to talk to them,” he said. That struck me as remarkably sage advice.

Of course, there are those who’ll suggest I’m saying that because Godfrey will soon become my boss, once Postmedia completes its purchase of Sun Media.

To that I say I’m way too old to kiss butt to keep my job.

Judging from the reaction from other reporters, I’m guessing that’s not the case at other newspapers.

Some reporters, apparently, were surprised to discover that (a) Godfrey is a Conservative and (b) newspaper owners decide editorial policy.

Reporters wanted to know if Godfrey’s support of Brown meant the newspaper chain would be echoing that support. That’s a fair question.

But for the Toronto Star to suggest that Godfrey is meddling in politics is a bit like the Archbishop of Canterbury complaining that the Pope is meddling in religion.

All newspapers have their political viewpoints — views generally moulded by their owners.

When was the last time the Star supported a Conservative?

Frankly, I’m shocked, shocked. Who knew Paul Godfrey was a Conservative?

He told reporters he’d been a member of the party all his adult life.

Anyone who suggests they’re just finding this out now is either deluded or naive.

I worked for Godfrey when I was City Hall columnist and when I first came to Queen’s Park. He never once called me to tell me what to write.

Did he influence the choice of which political parties we backed editorially in elections, or who we supported editorially for mayor? I expect so, much as I’d expect the owners of the Star, Globe and Post to do the same thing.

The Post runs columns from writers with views right across the political spectrum and

Burney has been known to savage Harper in his column in the Globe.

Look, the PC Party in Ontario is in a grave state of disrepair.

It needs all the help it can muster to rejuvenate and regenerate and to get back to the grassroots party members say they’re looking for — but never actually seem to be able to find.

Godfrey is being open and upfront in his support for Brown. He could easily have simply pulled strings behind the scene.

Better still, Godfrey and Burney gave the Tories sound advice. It’s high time someone talked turkey to this party that screws up at every election. The PCs were down to a membership of 10,000 and before this campaign were on life support.

They should be glad of any help they can get.

“We’ve had a select few at Queen’s Park dictate party policy,” Brown said, and vowed to open up party decision making.

His main opponent, Christine Elliott, says the campaign is far from over and won’t be until the convention May 9.

“We’re doing well in our membership totals,” she told reporters.

She has good support right across all 107 ridings and will be travelling across the province to shore up that support, she said.

“I’m not going to stop until it’s voting day,” she said. Elliott also confirmed that no matter the outcome, she’ll stick around as an MPP and run in the next election.

At least Godfrey’s finally injected some news into what has until now been a dreary campaign.

For that, reporters from all news outlets are eternally grateful.

christina.blizzard@sunmedia.ca


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