Polls and other time wasters.

A friend in Barrie called and left a message the other day about public opinion polls that said Conservative Leader Patrick Brown was more acceptable as premier than Liberal Kathleen Wynne. He was aghast that a nebbish such as Brown would even be considered as a serious candidate for the job of premier. What he missed is that the poll was meaningless and further on down in the figures we note that a sizeable portion of the poll respondents said their preference was ‘none of the above.’

While this friend is nominally a Liberal, he is no fan of Premier Kathleen Wynne. He also knows and despises Conservative Leader Patrick Brown. He watched in disgust over the last nine years that Patrick Brown was Barrie’s MP in Ottawa. He not only failed to represent his constituents here in Barrie but in two free votes in those years, he voted against women’s rights.

But the problem with the poll is that there is no context—such as an election—for voters to have an opinion. The dissatisfaction with Wynne reflects more on the economic climate and rising cost of living than any specific actions or inactions of the Wynne government. The normal malaise of a mid-term government is being reflected back from the voters.

And there is no question that Ontario does not know Brown. The obscure MP from Barrie stole the PC leadership from much more popular Conservative MPP Christine Elliott by paying for many of the memberships of recent immigrants to Ontario from India and Pakistan. Other than the Brampton and Scarborough concentrations of immigrants from the Sub-Continent, Indian and Pakistani immigrants tend to scatter across the province enabling them to control a majority of electoral districts in a weakened party membership.

Since becoming Ontario leader last year, Brown has had to concentrate on getting a provincial seat in the Legislature, dealing with a fractious and unruly caucus, building a supportive staff and changing his image from a small town rube to a more sophisticated Toronto man-about-town.

That does nothing for his basic problems that his only support in caucus comes from the religious right-wing and the anti-wind turbine Ontario Landowners leaders.

His problem is that it is not only Kathleen Wynne who dislikes him. Women who like men lose interest in him after just two minutes of small talk. There is nothing substantive that Patrick Brown has to contribute to life in Ontario and we will ignore the polls until there is a need for them in about two years.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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