Monday, October 01, 2007

Tory: Leadership if necessary, but not necessarily leadership

Alternative new slogan for John Tory: Leadership matters, unless it’s too hard, then forget it. That one may be too long to fit on a bumper-sticker though. How about: John Tory is not a leader?

Yes, you’ve probably heard the news by now, but Conservative leader John Tory has flip-flopped on the central tenet of his election platform with just nine scant days to go to election day. Mr. Principles is abandoning them for electoral expediency. Mr. Trust and Integrity is breaking a major promise, and he’s doing it before the election is even over:

Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory today flip-flopped on his controversial $400 million scheme to fund faith-based school.

Tory told 150 people at an Economic Club luncheon that he has heard the criticism from Ontarians of his plan.

"I have always believed that listening to the people is at the very core of leadership," he said, admitting the policy has "become too much a source of division."
So apparently leadership, according to John Tory, is backing down from a position he has called a matter of principle, a matter of fundamental fairness, an issue he has made the centre point if his campaign, because he has suddenly realized that if he sticks to his convictions on a point of principle he’d get his ass handed to him by the electorate. According to Tory then, leadership equals abandoning your principles for electoral expediency. I don’t think so John.

Let’s call a spade a spade here. The faith-based schooling retreat is a MASSIVE failure of leadership by John Tory. He chose this issue. He staked his political success on it. And, over the course of the campaign, he has spectacularly failed to convince the people of Ontario that he is right on this issue. Every poll shows his approach on this issue has been soundly rejected by Ontarians, and it’s one of the reasons why the Liberals have a ten point lead.

A more accurate definition of leadership would be taking the position on an issue you know in your heart of hearts to be right, popular or not, and convincing the people that you are correct; rallying them to your side.

That’s leadership. Flip-flopping purely for political expediency is the opposite of leadership.

Leadership DOES matter. But John Tory is not a leader.

: It’s a bigger flip-flop then I thought. Kinsella has this transcript of a Tory press scrum from August 29th. Yes, of this year…
Reporter: What would be your position on a free vote on something like your policy of faith based education? Would you allow your caucus a free vote on an issue like that?

John Tory
: I’ve always been consistent is saying that on significant matters of policy, of party policy, you’re going to have to have a discussion within caucus and perhaps as often as not say you’re going to have to vote as a party.

That’s the same as the budget – a fundamental instrument of government policy that you can’t be taking a chance, even in a majority that the government might be defeated. So your job as a leader is to earn the confidence of your members so they feel comfortable saying “we’ll vote as one on this”.

So, I’m saying the same thing I’ve been saying on this subject – there’s a number of items of essential party policy where you’re going to have to have a vote where party discipline prevails.

If he’s such a great leader, why can’t John Tory even lead his own caucus on this issue?

Earlier Monday, Tory held a conference call with all of the party's candidates, many of whom have complained about how much voters dislike the idea.

Meanwhile, another Progressive Conservative candidate has broken ranks with the party on the issue.

Hamilton East-Stoney Creek candidate Tara Crugnale told The Hamilton Spectator that she "can't defend the policy as it stands now."


Last week, Conservative MPP Bill Murdoch said he would not support the policy.

ELSEWHERE: Unsurprisingly, there’s lots of blogsphere reaction. For other takes, visit Adam Radwanski, BigCityLib, Jason Cherniak, Far and Wide, Liberal Arts and Minds and Scott Tribe. I have to give the medal though to Scott Feschuk:

“I have always believed that listening to the people is at the very core of leadership,” John Tory said in a speech today to the Economic Club of Toronto.

Other things that “listening to the people” is apparently at the very core of:

• Desperately trying to save your own political ass.

• Uhh, that's it.

• Wait! Also being a psychiatrist!

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


900ft Jesus said...

I really hope voters won't buy this latest BS and think Tory will actually respect this latest promise. I don't think they will, but then, this is the province that elected Harris - twice. Dalton isn't terribly popular even among Liberals. Eight days away...

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

LOL! Great title. I was trying to figure out how to tweak that quote to fit this morning (it seemed so appropriate!). You nailed it and beat me to it!

Good Job!


Steve V said...

Someday, political science students will study the Ontario election of 2007, under the "what not to do" or "how to blow it bad" lecture.

Jason Hickman said...

Yup, kind of hard to defend how this one has been handled. If anyone actually saw Tory's speech he (as per usual) spoke well and did about as good a job as anyone could in explaining this, but I don't see how he can avoid getting hammered on this.

Had he said from the start that this would be a free vote, or something similar, much of this wouldn't have happened. If wishes were fishes ...

(None of this is to say the Libs have covered themselves with honour here. From the first use of the word "segregation" on, they've played this in a way that's as low as it gets. But I'm not going to go all "final leg of a majority" here and deny that they've been effective, or that the Tories misplayed this.)