There’s a frequent debate in Canadian conservative circles. On the one side are those who advocate a pragmatic, moderate approach of aiming for the political centre. On the other side are those who feel that conservatives neither should nor can win when they behave too much like liberals.
What’s the point of conservatism, they ask, if we’re just going to do what the other party would do once we’re elected? Patrick Brown’s platform for the next Ontario election seems to fall very much in the first category. And it’s not surprising, given how much Brown himself has moderated his approach and message since he left federal politics.
The next election is still six months away and a lot can happen. But I suspect the appetite for change is too great for the Liberals to overcome. And when some voters turn to Brown and the Progressive Conservatives, they won’t see the kinds of things scared them back to the Liberals in previous elections, like promises of thousands of public sector job cuts. You can debate whether Brown is advancing or abandoning conservative principles, but that’s how Stephen Harper got elected in 2006. And it just might happen for Patrick Brown in 2018.