Christine Elliott: Thank you for your service.

The Member of the Ontario Legislature for Whitby-Oshawa has resigned. Christine Elliott has served the riding well for the past nine years. She was a progressive in Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party. For the second time, she had lost the contest for the leadership of the party to an extremist. She was too decent a person to want to again serve under a leader she could neither respect nor support.

And why should any decent person want to serve under a leader who blatantly usurped the party leadership under weak, unthinking and unsupervised rules. Patrick Brown did not win the leadership of the party with a majority of party members. He won the leadership with more people who knew nothing of the honour of a political party that had served Ontario well over the past 148 years as either government or opposition.

The Ontario Conservatives might not always have been progressive but they were a party that believed in a strong public school system, building hospitals, libraries, roads and bridges. They were not a party of ideologues until the unfortunate experience of Premier Michael Harris at the turn of this century. Ideology cannot replace a caring and responsible government and Mr. Harris failed Ontario.

But when the federal Conservative Party was taken over by the Reform/Alliance under Stephen Harper, the party fell on hard times. The federal party was ruled from the top and lost touch with its roots. The Ontario party was among the provincial organizations that withered, lost members and direction. By 2009, the provincial party was reduced to a small remnant of its former strength and an ideologue named Tim Hudak was chosen to lead it back to the government benches.

But the ideology was wasted on Ontario voters. Hudak’s second failed election was guaranteed when he precipitously announced at the Barrie Country Club that he would fire 100,000 civil servants in Ontario. The first to jump up and congratulate him on this brilliant decision was the uninspiring MP for Barrie, Patrick Brown. Hudak not only lost the election with that promise but was forced to resign by his caucus.

And it was the sorry state of the party that allowed Patrick Brown to win the party leadership with close to 40,000 sign-ups who were recent immigrants from India. Most knew nothing of Canadian politics. And most of them were likely not yet citizens.

Maybe Christine Elliott’s legacy to all political parties is that we should restrict voting on candidates and leaders. These critical decisions in our society should only be made by citizens who are eligible voters.

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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