Did Ontario PC leader Doug Ford make the right decision in removing Tanya Granic Allen as a party candidate in the upcoming provincial election?
It’s a question some Ontario conservatives have been asking for a few days. While there’s no easy answer, let’s see if we can reach a conclusion.
Granic Allen is the 37-year-old president of Parents As First Educators. This group supports parental responsibility in matters related to education and opposes Ontario’s sex education curriculum. She also sits on the board of the Catholic Civil Rights League and was an executive assistant to former Toronto city councillor John Parker.
Her run for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario was viewed as somewhat quixotic. She defended small government and low taxes, and wisely rejected the implementation of a carbon tax. Her opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage earned her the support of some social conservatives, faith-based party supporters and others.
Even though Granic Allen finished fourth out of the four PC leadership candidates, she earned 14.6 percent of the total votes and 15.34 percent of the party’s all-important points system. This was only two to three percent lower than the third-place finisher, Caroline Mulroney. (Ford beat Christine Elliott via the points system.)
Moreover, Granic Allen’s supporters mostly shifted to Ford in the second and third ballots. Without them, he wouldn’t have become party leader.
Ford’s team opened their arms to the new kingmaker. She was on the podium during his acceptance speech and became a high-profile PC candidate in the new provincial riding of Mississauga Centre. With the party sitting on top of the polls, her chances of becoming an MPP – and a cabinet minister – looked pretty good.
That is, until some of her past remarks began to haunt her.
Granic Allen once said she felt like a survivor of an “abortion holocaust,” and “[i]f the Jews were still being killed, there would be a debate in this country.” She had issues with the burka and niqab, stating “I don’t believe people should dress like ninjas.”
Last week, the Ontario Liberals unveiled a 2014 video where she said there’s a movement in Croatia to “push radical sexual education on the young or gay marriage – you know I almost vomit in disbelief. I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ How can this be happening? Just 20 years ago we were liberated from this communism and now we are embracing these lack of values, these lack of ideals.”
Although Ford had defended her in the past, this recent controversy may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. In a May 5 statement, he announced, “Tanya Granic Allen will no longer be a candidate for Ontario PC Party. We are a party comprised of people with diverse views that if expressed responsibly, we would respect. However, the fact is her characterization of certain issues and people has been irresponsible.”
While I never agreed with all of Granic Allen’s positions, I had no issue with her candidacy. If the Ontario PC Party is going to operate as a big tent, it has to allow different candidates to run under its banner – and not just those who please certain people’s tin-like ears.
Nevertheless, Ford and the PCs had a difficult decision to make. The party supports free speech and diversity of opinion, and doesn’t like to rein in candidates. But there were simply too many questionable and/or controversial statements to deal with.
Defeating Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals must be the primary goal, not consistently putting out political fires related to Granic Allen’s past statements.
When a candidate becomes the story for all the wrong reasons and the party and its leader take a backseat, something has to give. That’s what happened here.
Hence, Ford made the right decision in removing Granic Allen – because there was no other decision to make.
Troy Media columnist and political commentator Michael Taube was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper.
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