Oh provincial PC candidates, your platform changed overnight. You woke up this morning to a new leader, a new feeling about what it means to be Progressive Conservative in Ontario. For some of you, this feels like everything has changed – especially if you were a supporter of Christine Elliot or Caroline Mulroney. Doug Ford is distinctly different. How do you wrap your head (and your message) around this new reality?
Thanks for asking.
In this post, I share my take on the answer to that.
So much of your attitude about your new party leader is about how you frame it in your own mind. Until you have decided on how to take this in context, you will not be able to communicate it to voters. For example, “Everybody believed going in that it was time for change in Ontario. This is a barometer of how strong that change needs to be.”
Some other ideas that may help you out:
One: Don’t read into this what is not there. This was not a shocking win. This does not need to be interpreted as disunity. What this vote indicated to me was that members of the PC party are looking for a fighter (Allen or Ford) who has experience (Ford).
Two: Don’t equate populist with Donald Trump.
Populist: a member or adherent of a political party seeking to represent the interests of ordinary people.
The average citizen is already tired of the Wynne government and the rising expense of being an Ontarian. Ford will not build a populist vote, he will however acknowledge it and work with it.
Three: Remember what small-c conservative is about: creating an environment in which business can flourish in order to build a strong economy and relieve the tax burden on individual households. Sound a bit like Ford?
“Ontario is open for business”
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) March 1, 2018
With Doug Ford at the helm for the Ontario PC party, local candidates can actually start today to talk about the provincial platform. There is a lot that we know Doug Ford will be fighting for – especially if we ignore the media focus on carbon, sex-ed and abortion (let’s be real – the Leadership contest didn’t give them much to work with). Doug Ford’s comments on building an environment to support small business did not get much press.
Four: Notice that while Ford is not perfect (he is a human with a past and some foibles and flaws) Elliot is far from perfect herself. It is time for the PCs to take the few weeks left to unite the party and build respect… this possibility remains in question.
And Ford is definitely not to be confused with Kathleen Wynne.
Ford has been one of the most human candidates in the running (see notes in my previous post about Leadership Debate 2). He has a story teller, connector style of communication that appeals to those who are not fond of “polished politicians”.
As an interesting side note, Ford has also been through the mill of allegations and come out the other side with a future intact. A rare accomplishment. His belief that people should be allowed to make mistakes, make amends, be forgiven and move on may be the model of restorative justice needed in our current culture of #metoo as we seek ways to change and heal.
Five: The PCs have been strong in Rural Ontario historically, perhaps Ford will pull in Urban Ontario. It was impressive to see (rural) Tanya Granic Allen shine at the convention last night. She spoke with respect, conviction and strength about a unified party and stood behind Ford instantly and emphatically. I will be curious to see how her role in the party develops.
Six: Local matters. Continuing to focus on the fact that knocking on doors and meeting your neighbours continues to be the most powerful way of getting elected… get your local face out there. Be prepared for the hard questions and help defuse the media-inflated concerns that you will face.
Seven: DECIDE how you will frame your responses. Build your platform. Build your campaign. Get prepared. Build your speaking and interview skills. Practice, practice, practice. When you are ready for some help on building your impact, watch my videos and contact me to get started.
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(And we can hope that Doug Ford’s declaration that he helped save $1B in Toronto and ‘nobody lost their job’ is true.)