Five months after winning the provincial election in June, Ontario Progressive Conservative party faithful gathered in November at their Annual General Meeting to celebrate their victory in Toronto. Despite the festive spirit in the hall, the convention was soon overshadowed by a motion on gender identity.
The motion read: “Be it resolved that an Ontario PC Party recognizes ‘gender identity theory’ for what it is, namely, a highly controversial, unscientific ‘liberal ideology’; and, as such, that an Ontario PC Government will remove the teaching and promotion of ‘gender identity theory’ from Ontario schools and its curriculum.”
While both Premier Ford and Education Minister Lisa Thompson distanced themselves from the motion following the convention, and proclaimed that it would never be government policy, the fact remains that the motion was overwhelmingly approved by a majority of party members on the convention floor.
The premier’s assurances aside, the direction his party appears to be taking is a concern. This year’s convention delegates were visibly less diverse in contrast to delegates at the 2017 AGM. Under the previous leadership of Patrick Brown, the PCs had made a determined effort to broaden their tent to include minority groups of all different backgrounds. But this year’s convention seemed to return the PCs to a bygone era in which the party did not reflect, or even really acknowledge, the diversity of Ontario’s population. This sense is only reinforced by the recent elimination of the French Language Services Commissioner and the cancellation of a planned French-Language university.
Willful insensitivity to the concerns of minority populations may play well to some of Doug Ford’s base of support within his party, but if the PCs allow this narrative to continue, their political fortunes in many parts of the province will almost certainly begin to suffer.