THUNDER BAY – Editorial – It looks like the Toronto media and the political establishment have a new villain: the Ontario Landowners Association.
It all started when Norm Sterling, a long time MPP for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, got turfed after losing the party nomination to Jack MacLaren, who happens to be a former director of the OLA.
Now, as far as I know, the OLA did not play any role in that nomination contest; it didn’t run any ads nor did it endorse any candidate.
Sterling simply lost a democratic race fair and square.
Yet for some reason, Sterling’s political demise generated a hysteric reaction.
For instance, former Ontario Premier Ernie Eves made headlines when he implied “Tea Party” forces, ie the OLA, had defeated Sterling.
“The treatment that Norm got from his own party,” declared Eves “was not very polite, was not fair, it was not loyal, it was not compassionate, it was not even and it was not honest.”
Sounds like sour grapes from an establishment politician upset that his establishment politician friend lost.
Nevertheless, others were quick to pounce on Eves’ remark.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae saw Eves comments as evidence of some sort of right-wing master plan.
“It’s no accident that Mr. Eves was on radio today talking about (Ontario PC leader) Mr. (Tim) Hudak as the representative of the Tea Party North inOntarioand inCanada,” said Rae. “Mr. Hudak is the adopted son of Mr. Flaherty and Mr. Harper. He’s their preferred candidate, he’s their guy, he’s Mr. Harper’s trifecta: Harper, (Toronto Mayor Rob) Ford, then Hudak.”
And a Toronto Star article suggested, “many fear the Landowners will prove to be a Tory Trojan Horse. Rather than uniting the right, this rural rump has only sown divisions within the Tory family — and tarnished the party’s brand.”
Strong language, clearly meant to frighten voters.
But what’s the reality?
Well for one thing, the Ontario Landowners Association is far different from the Tea Party.
The Tea Party, after all, is really a loose coalition of American conservatives who have become actively involved in the US political scene.
They endorse candidates and take on a whole array of issues from deficits to defence, from taxes to government spending, from foreign policy to moral issues.
The OLA, on the other hand, is a non-profit group that was created to defend and promote one idea: the promotion and protection of private property rights.
Also the OLA is non-partisan. It doesn’t endorse any political party, though it is effective in making its voice heard on issues that pertain to its mandate.
Of course, if you become a member of the OLA you will probably also get more “politicized”, which in turn means you may become more involved in political battles outside the organization as individuals.
Is this wrong?
Don’t we want to encourage Ontarians to get more involved in the political process? Isn’t it better to hear more points of view and opinions?
If that’s “divisive” then maybe democracy itself is divisive.
Besides, at least the OLA is a voluntary organization that relies on voluntary donations.
That’s unlike union bosses who are currently using forced union dues to finance a fiercely partisan propaganda media campaign to bolster the Dalton McGuinty Liberals.
To me, that’s wrong; it’s an attack on free speech and free association. It also suggests the union bosses could be a “Trojan Horse” within the Liberal Party.
Perhaps, Bob Rae and Ernie Eves should be more concerned about that, than about any imagined Tea Party North.
Gerry Nicholls is editor of Freedom Forum