The first is Ontario – as it exists today.
The second is Ontario – as we know it can be.
On October 6, 2011, Ontarians arrived at a fork in the road toward these two places.
And they paused to deliver a message: One to Dalton McGuinty, and one to us.
To me. The message to Dalton McGuinty was this: “It’s time to stop the spending and cut out the waste.”
“It’s time to focus on jobs, and our economy.”
“No more excuses.”
“And we’re putting you on a short leash to see that you get on with it.”
Did he get that message?
No he didn’t. In every way, and every day, since October 6th, it’s been clear that Dalton McGuinty simply ignored what Ontarians tried to tell him.
And what’s happened?
Spending has gone up. By two and-a-half billion dollars.
Every hour of every day, Dalton McGuinty now spends one point eight million dollars more than he takes in, in revenue.
While family incomes stagnate. The deficit has gone up – not down.
While we’ve hemorraged even more jobs.
The credit agencies are breathing down our necks. Ontarians have a right to be exhausted with this man, and with this government.
By a deadening, defeatist consensus that our best days are behind us.
And that the only big challenge now is how best to manage our fall from grace.
But as much as Dalton McGuinty wants to blame Greece, and Wall Street and tsunamis and now Ottawa, for his own mess… The facts tell a different story.
That by every available measure our province lands near the bottom of the pack compared to most others when it comes to the things people really care about.
Things like job security, paying the bills, and knowing – hoping – that that their tax dollars are going toward things they actually need.
No, my friends, our troubles are home-grown.
So here we are. This is Ontario as it exists today, in 2012, under Dalton McGuinty.
Now, what was the message from the people of Ontario to our PC Party, the night of October 6th?
“You didn’t give us an alternative.”
“You didn’t give us enough change.”
“You didn’t give us a choice.”
It’s true. People did not see a clear, positive, conservative alternative.
A path to a brighter tomorrow. Toward a place that once again draws resilient people from around the planet, for a new start and a better future.
A place where hard-working people invent, create, mine, forge, harvest, build and sell first-class products and services to the world.
Where hard work and middle-class aspirations are rewarded with growing paycheques, and thriving families.
My own Slovak immigrant grandparents found such a place – and called it the envy of the world.
And, of course, it once was. It’s Ontario.
It can be that place again. But it all depends on the next steps that you, and I, take today.
Starting here. Starting now.
You see, I believe Ontarians know in their hearts that there’s a way out of this hole. Step One: Stop digging.
But more than that – they need someone to reach down, and help them back up.
Someone who sees the sunlight up above – not more darkness down below.
Someone who can restore their optimism, and earn their trust.
I, as your Leader, did not give sufficient voice to a bold, positive, conservative alternative – to do just that.
A conservatism founded on a powerful idea: that government should serve the people, and not the other way around.
Now, it takes work to safeguard this essential conservative principle in public life today.
From the left, from the commentators, from the arrogance of those who think they’re smarter than the rest of us.
Winning the contest against these proponents of mediocrity is, first and foremost, about finding your voice.
A voice of your own.
One that gives meaning to these ideas, and that in turn gives voice to the hopes and aspirations of others who share them.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about this, in the months since October 6th.
About the things you said to me. About things I needed to hear.
And I’m pleased to report that there’s no shortage of candour and honesty among our Ontario PC Party ranks… Chiefly, I’ve heard those thoughts expressed from talking to hundreds of riding executive members, candidates and campaign managers in every corner of our
Folks who are here, in this room, today.
Most of it supportive and encouraging.
Some of it, a little tough to hear.
All of it welcome. Necessary to know. And valuable.
For that I thank you all. For your commitment to our common conservative cause.
Here are the key things you said to me.
And all of them hit the nail on the head.
First, I’ve heard a lot about whether we spent too much time on certain – perhaps secondary – issues during the last election.
That our central campaign should have done a better job working with local campaigns.
We could have been more courteous. More professional.
That we could have enabled more flexibility at the riding level.
That our whole effort could have been better attuned to changing conditions on the ground.
You told me a lot about our platform. That it was a critique of the way things are – not a vision for the way things could be.
But there’s one thing that came up repeatedly in all the conversations I’ve had since October 6th: “Tim, we know the real you. And the real you didn’t come through.”
“Tim, we didn’t hear your true voice.”
And you were right.
Now, it’s easy to say that there’s no real school for leaders running in their first campaigns: There’s no course you can take, or book you can read.
In time, you can find your footing…But that’s no guarantee you’re going to find your voice.
Put another way, we ran a campaign designed not to lose – as opposed to running flat out to win.
We are not going to do that again.
This time, we’re playing to win. And here’s how we’re going to do it.
With a voice.
A strong voice for advancing conservative ideas, values and principles.
One that projects optimism for a better future.
For a government that looks to business planners, not central planners.
For an economy driven by innovation and hard work – not handouts. That treats energy policy as an economic fundamental – not a plaything for social engineers.
That treats every taxpayer dollar with the respect it deserves.
That gets the big things right.
No more tinkering at the margins – Mister McGuinty!
With things like ill-conceived green energy schemes and subsidized electric cars that only the rich can afford in the first place.
I say to you that we Ontarians know in our guts that a better future really is possible.
All that’s missing – is for someone to lead the charge.
So I will lead the charge.
We will lead the charge.
On October 6th, the people of this province said “Those PCs may be onto something… “But they’ve got more work to do.”
So they sent us reinforcements – sixteen new MPPs to hold this government’s feet to the fire.
We woke up on October 7th with sixteen more MPPs – twelve additional seats.
Dalton McGuinty? He lost nineteen!
This is our strongest showing since 1999. And we salute the Class of 2011 up here with me today!
The sixteen new members of our team have joined a deeply experienced and battle-hardened corps of veterans.
They represent renewal. They certainly stand for conservative ideas and principles.
But more than that, they symbolize momentum: That our trajectory is upward.
That we are on the right path.
That The Liberals are a party in decline – and we are a Party on the rise.
Because we are the Party of Jobs and Our Economy.
With principles that proclaim the things we conservatives – and the vast majority of Ontarians – believe in: That turning Ontario’s economy around – for jobs – is Priority One.
That if a part of government can’t prove its worth, it’s gone.
That if government tries to pick winners and losers – we all lose.
That “good enough” in public services is not an outcome – but an alibi.
And that businesses, and job creators and innovators, want to be asked in – not chased out!
These are our touchstones for the task ahead.
Not just the defeat of Dalton McGuinty in the next election.
But to confront, head-on, the task that begins the very next day. To rebuild a proud, strong, confident Ontario that stands astride Confederation again.
This, my friends, is my voice.
This is our voice.
It is the voice of hope for those who’ve lost hope.
It is a voice of optimism for those who could use some right now.
It’s time for conservatives to lead again!
And I stand ready to do my part.
Because this is my voice.
Hear it now, as I commit to you today: To a conservative campaign that we can all be proud of.
To a platform that says what it means.
To a Party for the 21st Century that’s found its voice.
Proud and unapologetic.
Which will give us a majority PC government for Ontario.
For an Ontario that will lead again!
Progressive Conservative Party
NetNewsledger.com provides elected officials the opportunity to share directly with our readers via our Leader’s Ledgers. The views expressed by the authors are their own, and may or may not reflect NetNewsledger.com’s editorial view.