Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dump Tory group shoots itself in the grassroots

Bizarre news release helps McGuinty, discredits pro-review forces

I have not weighed in publicly on the John Tory leadership review (for the record, I helped out on the campaign and am against review), but this release, issued by the “Grassroots PC” group headed by former party president Rueben Devlin and former MPP Bart Maves, needs to be cited for its clumsiness, in both ideation and execution.

The release attacks Tory’s recent speech to the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario. Below are some excerpts, followed by the response of Tory supporter John Ratchford:

Grassroots PC: [Tory] called for new initiatives to attract and retain nurses – a great idea. The slightly embarrassing fact, though, is that the Liberal government has already implemented each one of the great new ideas he suggested.

Grassroots PC: Great New Idea #1: “Implementing the creation of 70 per cent full-time employment for nurses”
Slightly Embarrassing Fact #1: Every hospital in Ontario is already required to have 70 per cent fulltime employed nurses…it’s government policy.

Ratchford: Fact: Ontario’s nurses say the Liberals haven’t kept their promise. Doris Grinspun, Executive Director of the RNAO, said: “Targeted funding is crucial if the government is going to achieve its goals of increasing Ontario’s nursing workforce by 9,000 and having 70 percent of nurses working full-time.” (RNAO press release, January 22, 2008)

Grassroots PC: Great New Idea #3: “Establishing nurse-led clinics that would allow nurses to take a lead role in areas such as chronic disease management.”
Slightly Embarrassing Fact #3: On November 30, 2005 the Liberal government announced $15 million for the creation of 69 new diabetes education and care teams.

Ratchford: The error-ridden news release also declares that the Liberals have kept their promise and created nurse-led clinics, pointing to an extremely small $15 million program as proof of the accomplishment.
Fact: Here’s what the RNAO said in their January 22 news release: “RNAO says the need to immediately improve the public’s access to primary health is why the association wants to see 12 of the 25 nurse-led clinics, promised during the election campaign, up and running in 2008.”


Well, to point out the obvious, the fact that something is “government policy,” doesn’t mean it’s actually happening. For example, it’s “government policy” that class sizes from grades JK to 3 are capped at 20. But the McGuinty Fiberals have failed to achieve that, despite spending a couple billion and having four years to do it.

And giving the Liberals credit by citing a two-year-old funding announcement that equates to maybe 20% of the full clinic idea Tory proposes? Talk about apples and oranges. Or more like the way teachers are being encouraged to mark these days: no marks off for incomplete or late assignments.

I respect the right of the dump Tory crowd to get their messages out. But I fail to see the “strategery” in putting out a release that credits McGuinty with things he hasn’t achieved. It doesn’t advance their cause; it just hurts our caucus and whoever might succeed Tory, should these guys achieve their goal at the review in London.

In addition to serving as unpaid water-carriers for McGuinty, “Grassroots PC” have ceded the high ground they tried to claim with Devlin’s introductory comment on their website: “while we respect John Tory and appreciate his service to the party, he is not the leader our party and Ontario need to succeed in the future.” Issuing a release that could have come from the Liberal war room falls rather short of showing respect for Tory.

I grant that opposing the leader while supporting the party can be a tough wire to walk. But these guys have deliberately dived off that wire headfirst – without a net.

Endnote: Hugh MacIntyre has a different view.


Hugh MacIntyre said...

It doesn't really matter if the policy had been implemented or not. What matters is that the policy is the exact same. There is no uniquely conservative vision being offered here. Simply saying that we would do the same thing but better has led to a century of mostly defeats on the federal level.

Hugh MacIntyre said...

Oh and thank you for the Endnote.

Matthew said...

So if I understand your point Joan, basically we're supposed to oppose any Liberal policy just because it's a Liberal policy? At the same time, you also endorse a man who wants to do what the Liberals are doing, but more of it. I've also noticed that you've failed to recognize the fact that Mr. Tory himself attacked the Mike Harris legacy, libertarians, social conservatives and the groups our party welcomed in the decade prior to his leadership, but that was okay because it was the leader doing the talking I guess. Finally, the Liberals certainly don't need any more help in their planned attacks for Tory if he were to lead the PC Party into the next election, he's continually demonstrated both pre- and post-election that he will provide them with ample sound bites and strategies to ensure Dalton will become the first Premier since Leslie Frost to win 3 majorities in a row. Not that Tory'll really mind; to him, it's just about the red pig instead of the blue one being at the trough.

Joan Tintor said...

Well, I don't think Matthew understands my point, which is pretty straightforward: whether you like Tory or not, it's not smart to help McGuinty.

If Grassroots PC had put out a release pointing out the things Matthew talks about -- including, presumably, the relevant proof -- that would be one thing. But they didn't. They put out a release complimenting Fibber McGuinty.

If someone wants to explain why they think it IS smart for Tories to put out releases that compliment McGuinty, I'd be interested to hear it.

Anonymous said...

Wake me up when Tory proves that he has the pulse of the people. (real conservative)

Anonymous said...

1. Re-read the Grassroots release, Joan. You say keep saying that it "compliments" and "helps" McGuinty. Sorry, but it doesn't. It simply states that the Liberals have "already implemented" this or that policy -- is that really a "compliment"? Hardly. If you want to quibble about whether these policies have been only partially implemented, not fully implemented, fine. Whatever. But the suggestion that the release is full of praise for the Liberals and McGuinty is just plain incorrect. That's nothing more than Ratchford's spin!

2. The real point here is that John Tory's nursing "policy" is virtually, if not identically, the same as Dalton McGuinty's. If that is not an issue for PC party members to ponder during the leadership review, I don't know what is.

3. You seem concerned that the Liberals will use this Grassroots release against the Tories in 2011. Boy, if JT is still our leader, I can pretty much guarantee that we will have much bigger things to worry about than Kinsella et al. using this release.

Joan Tintor said...

1. The release repeats the phrase "great new idea" three times, says all three ideas have been implemented by the Fiberals, and that's not a compliment? I guess there's not much point debating people who deny a document means what it says, but I will persevere.

2. The release could have said that Tory had the same policies as McGuinty without saying they are "great ideas" or that McGuinty has implemented them -- which he hasn't.

3. As for being "concerned that the Liberals will use this Grassroots release against the Tories in 2011" -- I don't think it's going to take that long.

Overall, the message seems to be that any tactic is acceptable in aid of the higher goal of removing Tory. If that is the attitude of his opponents, fair enough. Just don't pretend that you "respect" him.

Joan Tintor said...

My apologies. There is a slight error under #1 in my preceding comment.

The release, in fact, says "great idea" or "great new idea" SIX times -- not three.

Ken said...

I agree with what Hugh and Matthew said above. Joan, I understand what you are saying in that the press release could help the Liberals, but we are about 4 years away from an election so I don't think this is the time to be uber partisan for the sake of being uber partisan. Tory is just saying that he agrees with the Liberals, but that he would somehow do it more effectively/efficiently. If I don't agree with the objective of the Liberals in the first place, why would I even consider keeping Tory as a leader? My goal isn't to have policies I don't agree with implemented better.

Ontario Blue said...

Joan, your argument is no more convincing than any of John Tory's.

Tory does more of his blah-blah, someone points out that it's blah-blah and you have issue that it helps McGuinty??

John Tory was McGuinty's best campaign worker last October, and that's the problem that needs fixing first.

observer said...

Joan -- I hate to tell you but most conservatives (and readers of this blog) do not want to see Mr. Tory back. I am surprised that you would be supporting him. He has been a disaster and continues to make the same mistakes.

Many conservatives will not be going to the convention because they do not want to spend money on Mr. Tory's party. He will get the required votes to stay on as party leader. But if it was a one-member, one-vote system -- he would be gone.