Ontario's Progressive Conservatives have launched their election platform with a glossy magazine and a smiling Patrick Brown on the cover. Queen's Park analyst Robert Fisher delivers his take on if the policies inside are as slick as the magazine cover. Listen to his full interview with Craig Norris of CBC's Kitchener-Waterloo by clicking the play button or read an edited and abridged transcript below.
Robert Fisher, Ontario politics analyst
The platform is called The People's Guarantee. What stands out to you in this document about PC policies?
It's a very deliberate attempt to move the Tories from a party of the right to, I guess, the political centre. The 'People's Guarantee' is, in my view, equal parts Kathleen Wynne, a little Bill Davis and, when you look at the carbon tax, for example, Mr. Brown wants to bring in, a little Stephane Dion. You have an agreement between the Liberals and Tories about an approach to hydro rate cuts. You have an agreement on child care. There's spending on transit, mostly in Toronto, and a reduction in taxes.
The Tories know the Mike Harris 'slash and burn' style of government won't work now. Something had to change in what is, after all, a change election.
This is the digital age, why do you think they went with a glossy magazine?
You can find the details of the plan online. For me, it's like having a real newspaper to read. The magazine is something you can actually hand out. There might be a few copies lying around when Mr. Brown speaks at Talbot College in London. The document gives voters something to read easily. It's a clever piece of work. It's a far cry from the Harris "common sense revolution" which you may or may not remember was printed on comic book paper. It left a lot of people laughing.
What do you make of this promise that if he's elected, and if they don't fulfil their five main promises, Patrick Brown won't run again?
It's catchy but let's look at this practically. If he wins in June and over the course of his first term, for what ever reason and there could be many, the five key promises don't happen — so, suddenly Mr. Brown is going to up and quit? I don't think so. People may remember Dalton McGuinty signing a pledge not to raise taxes and he did. Mr. Brown's promise to quit is so much malarkey.
The 'People's Guarantee' is, in my view, equal parts Kathleen Wynne, a little Bill Davis and, when you look at the carbon tax, for example, Mr. Brown wants to bring in, a little Stephane Dion. - Robert Fisher
Do you think this platform will help voters understand who Patrick Brown is?
The Tories hope so. There's a lot of relief in the party that the platform is out because you can no longer say Mr. Brown is a man with no plan. The People's Guarantee is Patrick Brown and now Patrick Brown is the People's Guarantee. The clock is ticking. There's less than 200 days before the election. It has become a question of trust. Do you trust the new Patrick Brown? Do you trust Patrick Brown to believe in what he is promising you? That's the job Mr. Brown will have to do as he travels the province in his People's Guarantee bus.
We know the Tories are doing well in the polls. We know they have money in the bank for this election. But what happens next June if they don't win?
I'm sure they've been through that scenario. They've lost four consecutive elections. If the Liberals win a minority but there is a strong Tory finish in second place there would likely be another election in two years time so you'd have to think they would stick with Patrick Brown. The other question is that in the election after this one would Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath still be candidates? I'm not so sure that the only person left standing after a minority government situation might not be Patrick Brown.