Transcript: Did The Common Sense Revolution Work? | Jun 26, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, lavender shirt, and spotted purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Did the common sense revolution work? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says NOW THAT WE'VE HEARD FROM THE MAN WHO LED THE COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION, LET'S GET A MORE ANALYTICAL VIEW ON THE MIKE HARRIS LEGACY. AND TO DO THAT, WE WELCOME: IN EAST YORK, ONTARIO: CHRISTINA BLIZZARD, AUTHOR OF "RIGHT TURN: HOW THE TORIES TOOK ONTARIO" (ALL ABOUT THE HARRIS YEARS) AND, OF COURSE, SHE WAS A LONG-TIME COLUMNIST FOR SUN MEDIA...

Christina is in her sixties, with chin-length blond hair. She's wearing a teal blouse.

Steve continues AND IN MIDTOWN TORONTO: MARTIN REGG COHN, ONTARIO POLITICS COLUMNIST WITH THE TORONTO STAR. IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU TWO WISE OBSERVERS ON OUR PROGRAM TONIGHT...

Martin is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short wavy brown hair. He's wearing glasses and a blue denim shirt.

Steve continues I WANT TO START WITH THIS PREMISE THAT MIKE HARRIS PUT FORWARD, WHICH IS ESSENTIALLY: I'M NOT TOO RIGHT WING. THE PROVINCE HAD GONE TOO FAR LEFT WING AFTER 10 YEARS OF LIBERALS AND NEW DEMOCRATS, AND ALL I DID WAS DRAG IT INTO THE MIDDLE. CHRISTINA BLIZZARD, WEIGH IN ON THAT. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

The caption changes to "Christina Blizzard. Author, 'Right turn.'"

Christina says I THINK THERE IS A LOT TO BE SAID FOR THAT. I THINK YOU ALSO HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT BOB RAE, WHO WAS THEN A NEW DEMOCRAT, WHO WAS MIKE HARRIS' PREDECESSOR, HAD GOVERNED THROUGH TWO VERY... A DOUBLE-DIP RECESSION. THE PROVINCE WAS IN A TERRIBLE FINANCIAL SITUATION. I THINK THAT RAE, IN HIS OWN MEMOIRS, RECALLS THAT THEY HAD ALMOST CONSIDERED DECLARING BANKRUPTCY. SO HARRIS CAME IN THAT YEAR AND HAD TO MAKE SOME VERY DEEP CUTS BECAUSE... YOU KNOW, JUST BECAUSE RAE HAD TRIED TO SORT OF SPEND HIS WAY OUT OF THESE RECESSIONS. SO I THINK IN A GREAT MANY WAYS THAT IS TRUE. BUT I DO THINK IN A LOT OF WAYS HARRIS MADE SOME VERY BOLD CHANGES TO EDUCATION FUNDING, FOR EXAMPLE. SO THERE'S A LITTLE BIT OF BOTH IN THAT.

Steve says YES. WE'LL GO THROUGH THE LIST OF SOME OF THE EITHER HITS OR MISSES, AS YOU GUYS SEE THEM. MARTIN, WHAT ABOUT THAT ORIGINAL NOTION THAT HE ACTUALLY WASN'T AS RIGHT WING AS PEOPLE THOUGHT. HE REALLY JUST WANTED TO BRING THE PROVINCE BACK MORE TO WHAT HE SAW AS THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD?

The caption changes to "Martin Regg Cohn. Toronto Star."

Martin says WELL, GOVERNING IS LIKE DRIVING. THERE ARE ALWAYS COURSE CORRECTIONS AND HE WAS A PRODUCT OF HIS TIME. I WAS STRUCK BY SOMETHING THAT CHRIS SAID A MOMENT AGO ABOUT HOW RAE TRIED TO SPEND HIS WAY OUT OF THE RECESSION, WHICH HAS A FAMILIAR RINGED TO GIVEN THAT ANOTHER PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE PREMIER, DOUG FORD, IS ALSO TRYING TO SPEND HIS WAY OUT OF AN ECONOMIC CRISIS, AS IS EVERY GOVERNMENT ON THE PLANET. MY POINT IS THAT BOB RAE WAS IN POWER FOR A RECESSION AND SO THE BUDGET... THE BOOKS WERE UNDER TREMENDOUS STRESS, AND MIKE HARRIS PROFITED FROM THAT BY BEING ABLE TO SAY, HEY, I CAN BRING ORDER TO THE BOOKS, I CAN BRING BALANCE, I CAN PUT US BACK INTO HARMONY. BUT IF THERE WAS A COURSE CORRECTION, IT WASN'T TO THE CENTRE, IT WAS TO THE RIGHT WING.

Steve says YOU THINK IT WAS A MUCH MORE HARD RIGHT-WING GOVERNMENT THAN HE'S LETTING ON?

The caption changes to "Martin Regg Cohn, @reggcohn."

Martin says WELL, I THINK IT WAS ABSOLUTELY A PRODUCT OF ITS TIME, IN THE WAKE OF RONALD REAGAN AND THATCHERISM AND, ABSOLUTELY. I MEAN, MIKE HARRIS COULDN'T GET ELECTED TODAY NO MATTER HOW CHARMING, PERSUASIVE, CHARISMATIC HE MIGHT BE. BECAUSE AT THAT TIME THEY BELIEVED GOVERNMENT WAS NOT A FRIEND. RONALD REAGAN, HI, I'M HERE FROM THE GOVERNMENT AND I'M HERE TO HELP YOU. THAT WAS A LAUGH LINE. PEOPLE TODAY WOULD SAY PLEASE HELP ME.

Steve says CHRISTINA, HE DID MANAGE TO CUT TAXES, WHICH IS WHAT HE SAID HE WOULD DO. IN CUTTING TAXES THEY REALIZED MORE REVENUE. THEY DID BALANCE THE BUDGET AS WELL. THE QUESTION IS: WAS IT HIS POLICIES THAT MADE THAT HAPPEN OR WAS HE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE THE GUY WITH HIS HAND ON THE TILLER AFTER THE WORLD ECONOMY WAS RETURNING AFTER THAT AWFUL RECESSION OF THE MID 1990s?

The caption changes to "Christina Blizzard, @chrizblizz."

Christina says WELL, I SUSPECT IT'S A BIT OF BOTH. I THINK THE PROVINCE REALLY NEEDED SOME ECONOMIC STIMULATION. THERE WERE... YOU KNOW, AS WE'VE JUST COMMENTED. I THINK THAT MIKE HARRIS WAS THE GREAT PRAGMATIST AND REALLY, MORE THAN BEING IDEOLOGICAL, I THINK HE WAS A PRAGMATIST. DON'T FORGET THE FIRST THING HE DID WHEN HE CAME TO POWER WAS TO CANCEL PHOTO RADAR, WHICH HAD BEEN HUGELY UNPOPULAR IN THE PROVINCE, FAR MORE SO THAN ANYTHING ELSE. I SUSPECT THAT SOME OF HIS... SOME OF HIS POLICIES WERE SIMPLY DEALING WITH THINGS THAT IRRITATED VOTERS, TAXPAYERS, WHATEVER. THE LITTLE SORT OF NIGGLY THINGS THAT JUST DROVE PEOPLE CRAZY ABOUT GOVERNMENT, SUCH AS PHOTO RADAR.

Steve says NO, THAT WAS A BIG WINNER OFF THE TOP, CANCELLING THAT, THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT. ONE OF THE THINGS, MARTIN, HE ALSO DID, WAS REDUCE THE NUMBER OF POLITICIANS AT QUEEN'S PARK. THERE USED TO BE 130 MPPs AND HE TOOK IT DOWN TO 90 OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. IT WAS A GREAT POPULIST MOVE AND EVERYBODY LOVED THE FACT HE WAS GETTING RID OF POLITICIANS. WITH THE BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT, WAS THAT A GOOD MOVE?

Martin says ACTUALLY THAT'S ON MY LIST OF GOOD IDEAS. I THOUGHT IT WAS BRILLIANT AND IT ALWAYS PAINS ME WHEN I SEE THE NUMBER OF MPs OR MPPs, BECAUSE WE'RE TIED TO THE FEDERAL DISTRIBUTION, INCREASE. WE DON'T NEED MORE THAN 300 MPs IN OTTAWA AND WE DON'T NEED MORE THAN 107 MPPs IN QUEEN'S PARK AS WE HAD UNTIL RECENTLY. BUT THE PHOTO RADAR POINT THAT YOU AND CHRIS TALK ABOUT IS AN IMPORTANT ONE BECAUSE HE WAS A POPULIST POLITICIAN, JUST LIKE THE GUY WHO IS IN POWER NOW, DOUG FORD. AND PHOTO RADAR WAS THE QUINTESSENTIAL, HEY, I'M FOR THE LITTLE MAN AND SO ON. SO IT WAS A COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION. NOT A REVOLUTION IN THE SENSE THAT WE UNDERSTAND TODAY IN TERMS OF CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT OR EVEN BACKLASH AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY TODAY. IT WAS A TALK ABOUT TAX FIGHTER, THE TEA PARTY, THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, AND IN SOME WAYS COMMON SENSE. CUT GOVERNMENT. WE CAN DO MORE WITH LESS. NEVER MIND WALKERTON, WHICH I'M SURE YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT OR NEVER MIND NURSING HOME INSPECTIONS. WE CAN DO IT OF THE JUST TRUST US.

Steve says CHRISTINA, THERE WAS THAT FAMOUS QUOTE FROM BACK IN THE DAY IN WHICH SOMEBODY SAID THERE WON'T BE A SINGLE BLADE OF GRASS ON THE SOUTH LAWN AT QUEEN'S PARK THAT FAILS TO BE TROD UPON BY SOME PROTESTER BY THE TIME THE REVOLUTION WAS OVER. I MEAN, MIKE HARRIS CAME INTO POWER WITH THE IDEA OF GETTING STUFF DONE AND IT DIDN'T SEEM LIKE HE PARTICULARLY WAS CONCERNED ABOUT WHO HE'D HAVE TO BULL DOZE OVER IN ORDER TO GET THAT DONE. THERE WAS LESS SOCIAL COHESION DURING HIS TIME THAN PERHAPS IN YEARS BEFORE. MY QUESTION FOR YOU IS: WAS THAT A BAD THING?

Christina says I THINK... I THINK THAT HARRIS... I THINK SOME OF THE VERY DIFFICULT CHANGES THAT HARRIS MADE WERE SPUN IN A VERY DIFFERENT WAY THAN IF, SAY, A SOCIALIST HAD TRIED TO DO IT. HE MADE SOME VERY DIFFICULT BUT MUCH-NEEDED CHANGES TO THE WAY EDUCATION WAS FUNDED. PEOPLE WERE ANGRY AT HIM AND SAID, OH, HE'S DOWNLOADED ALL THESE SERVICES ONTO THE LOCAL TAXPAYER. BUT PEOPLE FORGET THAT WHAT HE DID WAS, HE ALSO UPLOADED EDUCATION FUNDING TO THE PROVINCE, WHICH WAS A LONG-OVERDUE REFORM THAT NEEDED TO BE MADE. CLEARLY EDUCATION SHOULD BE PAID FOR FROM THE PROVINCIAL TAX, FROM PROVINCIAL TAXES. HE ALSO MADE SWEEPING CHANGES TO THINGS LIKE SEPERATE SCHOOL FUNDING. HE, IN A VERY CONTROVERSIAL MOVE THAT WENT VERY MUCH UNDER THE RADAR BECAUSE EVERYTHING ELSE WAS HAPPENING WAS HIS CHANGE TO-- HE ALLOWED CATHOLIC SCHOOLS ACCESS TO THE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL TAX BASE OF DOWNTOWN TORONTO. HE PULLED THAT FUNDING RIGHT ACROSS THE PROVINCE WHICH WOULD'VE BEEN VERY DIFFICULT TO DO IN ANY OTHER TIME. YES, THERE WAS NOT A BLADE OF GRASS THAT WAS TRAMPLED, BUT I SOMETIMES THINK THAT WHAT THEY WERE TRAMPLED FOR WERE NOT THE BIG CHANGES BUT SOME OF THE SMALLER... THE SMALLER THINGS THAT JUST ANNOYED A CERTAIN SEGMENT OF THE POPULATION.

Steve says WELL, MARTIN, LET'S TALK ABOUT THIS ISSUE ABOUT WHAT WAS IN THE COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION DOCUMENT VERSUS, YOU KNOW, STUFF THAT COMES UP. AND YOU MENTIONED WALKERTON A SECOND AGO. I THINK CONVENTIONAL WISDOM SAYS THAT, FOR THE THINGS THAT MIKE HARRIS CAMPAIGNED ON 25 YEARS AGO, WHICH WON HIM HIS FIRST MAJORITY GOVERNMENT, YOU KNOW, HE PRETTY MUCH DID WHAT HE SAID HE WAS GOING TO DO. BUT ON THE STUFF THAT CAME UP, YOU KNOW, TAINTED WATER IN WALKERTON, THE SHOOTING DEATH OF A PROTESTER AT IPPERWASH. HOW WELL DID HE DO IN YOUR VIEW AT MANAGING THOSE KINDS OF CRISES?

Martin says WELL, NOT WELL AT ALL. IT'S FAIR BALL TO DO THE GREATEST HITS OF MIKE HARRIS. I'LL THROW IN ANOTHER ONE. HE GAVE TRUSTEES A HAIRCUT BY UPLOADING THAT ASPECT OF EDUCATION OR FUNDING. EVERY PREMIER COMES IN WITH SOME COHERENT IDEAS. BUT, STEVE, YOU'RE QUITE RIGHT, THAT THE PRICE THAT WE PAID FOR THAT, WHETHER IT WAS IN CHANGING THE STAFFING RATIOS IN NURSING HOMES, WALKERTON... WHEN CHRIS TALKS ABOUT HIS PRAGMATISM, YOU CAN TALK ABOUT DOUG FORD'S PRAGMATISM, YOU CAN TALK ABOUT KATHLEEN WYNNE'S PRAGMATISM. THE QUESTION IS WHAT'S THE BALANCE BETWEEN GOING WITH YOUR GUT, I'M IN TOUCH WITH THE COMMON MAN, I CAN UNDERSTAND WHETHER YOU CALL ME ON THE CELL PHONE OR TOUR THE PROVINCE BEFORE AN ELECTION, I GET IT. THE TRADE-OFF IS THAT YOU'RE KIND OF ANTI-ELITE IN A WAY. AND ELITES AREN'T ALL BAD. SOMETIMES ELITES ARE PEOPLE OF SCHOLARSHIP AND TRAINING, LIKE MEDICAL DOCTORS AND PUBLIC OFFICERS, MEDICAL OFFICERS OF PUBLIC HEALTH. AND THE PROBLEM WITH MIKE HARRIS WAS THAT HE DIDN'T LISTEN WHEN HE DIDN'T WANT TO LISTEN, AND SO WALKERTON AND PRIVATIZING WATER SUPPLY OR I SHOULD SAY DEREGULATING AND SO ON WAS THE PRICE HE PAID FOR THINKING THAT HE COULD DO IT BETTER, CUT RED TAPE AND THINGS LIKE THAT. I MEAN, LOOK AT DOUG FORD TODAY AND RED TAPE. HE'S BRINGING IT BACK BECAUSE HE UNDERSTANDS THAT YOU ACTUALLY NEED TO REREGULATE AND CONTROL NURSING HOMES AND OTHER ASPECTS OF PUBLIC AND EVERYDAY LIFE. SO ON INDIGENOUS ISSUES, FOR EXAMPLE, YEAH, MIKE HARRIS WENT WITH HIS GUT. CRACK DOWN HARD. LET'S MOVE ON THIS AND NOT ALLOW THESE KINDS OF PROTESTS AND RESTORE LAW AND ORDER. LAW AND ORDER WAS A BIG PART OF THE COMMON SENSE SO-CALLED REVOLUTION. INCREASED FUNDING FOR POLICE FORCES. WELL, THAT WOULDN'T SELL VERY WELL TODAY, WOULD IT?

Steve says CHRISTINA, CAN I GET YOU TO WEIGH IN ON THE STUFF IN THE COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION DOCUMENT, HE HAD A PRETTY STRONG RECORD. ON THE OTHER, HOW WELL DO YOU THINK HE MANAGED THOSE CRISES.

Christina says I THEY DID HAVE SOME ISSUES. WALKERTON HAPPENED RIGHT AFTER THE 1999 ELECTION, AND YOU KIND OF WONDER HOW THAT WOULD HAVE PLAYED OUT IF IT HAD HAPPENED THE YEAR BEFORE. WALKERTON HAD BEEN A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN FOR A LONG TIME. I COVERED THE COMMISSION INTO WHAT HAPPENED THERE AND THERE HAD BEEN A NUMBER OF MISSTEPS OVER PROBABLY 25 TO 30 YEARS. BUT IT WAS THE HANDLING OF IT. I THINK ANYONE WHO'S WATCHED 'THE CROWN' AND WATCHED THE QUEEN TRYING TO DECIDE WHETHER TO GO TO ABERFAN AFTER THAT COAL MINING DISASTER UNDERSTANDS THAT EVERY POLITICIAN HAS TO DEAL WITH THAT, WHEN YOU COME TO A DISASTER, WHEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS COMES UP SOMETHING LIKE WALKERTON COMES UP. THAT'S WHAT I THINK THAT HARRIS STRUGGLED WITH AT THE TIME. WHY DIDN'T HE GO TO WALKERTON EARLIER AFTER THAT TRAGEDY UNFOLDED? AND I THINK HE HESITATED AND DIDN'T GO THERE. I THINK IT WAS PROBABLY QUITE POORLY HANDLED. PROBABLY NOT HIS FINEST HOUR. BUT IT ALSO, AS THE COMMISSION CLEARLY OUTLINED, YOU KNOW, IT WAS... THIS WAS NOT ENTIRELY THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT'S... YOU KNOW, ON THEIR DIME KIND OF THING. IT HAD BEEN A LONG TIME IN THE MAKING.

Steve says NO, THAT'S QUITE FAIR TO SAY. YOU COULD NOT LAY THE WHOLE THING AT THE FEET OF THE CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT. THERE WAS CERTAINLY PLENTY... THERE WERE PLENTY OF COOKS THAT MADE THAT STEW GO SO BAD. THAT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE TO SAY. MARTIN, LET ME GET YOUR TAKE ON THIS. WHICH IS A MORE ACCURATE STATEMENT: MIKE HARRIS LOVED TORONTO OR MIKE HARRIS HATED TORONTO?

Martin laughs and says WELL, PRIVATELY I THINK HE LOVED TORONTO BECAUSE HE STILL LIVES HERE. THE MAN FROM NORTH BAY HAS MADE HIS CAREER HERE SINCE LEAVING GOVERNMENT AND SPENT MANY YEARS BEFORE BEING PREMIER IN TORONTO. AS A POLITICIAN, AS A LEADER... I DON'T KNOW. AMALGAMATION I THINK WAS SOMETHING THAT I PERSONALLY SUPPORTED TOO. SO DID THE TORONTO STAR. PUT THAT ON THE GREATEST HITS AS WELL. BUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT, YOU KNOW, SOMETHING THAT CHRIS AND YOU MENTIONED EARLIER ABOUT THE COMMON SENSE REVOLUTION, THINK OF IT MORE AS DISRUPTION. REALLY. WHICH IS WHAT WE ATTACH TO DONALD TRUMP AND DOUG FORD. BLOW THINGS UP. LET'S BLOW IT UP. THE PROBLEM WITH THAT... PHOTO RADAR, FINE. YOU CAN DEBATE THE FINE POINTS OF THAT. DISRUPTION ISN'T A LONG-TERM STRATEGY. IT'S A SHORT-TERM EXPLOSION. YOU HAVE TO BUILD SOMETHING UP AND PUT... REPLACE IT WITH SOMETHING ONCE YOU DEMOLISH IT. AND THAT'S WHAT MIKE HARRIS WASN'T SO GOOD AT. HE SOLD OFF THE 407, RIGHT? AND CREATED THIS FIRE SALE SO HE COULD, AT A RIDICULOUS PRICE, SO THAT HE COULD REDUCE TAXES AND GET CLOSER TO BALANCING THE BUDGET JUST BEFORE THAT 1999 ELECTION. WE HAVE BEEN PAYING THE PRICE FOR THE LAST 20 OR SO YEARS AND WILL FOR THE NEXT 60 OR SO YEARS, HAVING SOLD IT OFF AND LOST MANY BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. SO SHORT-TERM DISRUPTION FOR LONG-TERM PAIN.

[INAUDIBLE]

Steve says HAVING SAID THAT, CHRIS, I'LL GET YOU TO WEIGH IN ON THIS. I'M NOT SURE WE WANT TO PUSH THAT AND I'M NOT SAYING MARTIN IS, BUT WE PROBABLY DON'T WANT TO PUSH THE COMPARISON BETWEEN DONALD TRUMP AND MIKE HARRIS TOO FAR. MIKE HARRIS WAS 14 YEARS AN MPP, A FORMER CABINET MINISTER, HE KNEW HOW TO GET STUFF DONE. DONALD TRUMP IS PRETTY DIFFERENT KIND OF DISRUPTOR, I'D SAY.

Christina says ABSOLUTELY, TOTALLY. I WAS GOING TO SORT OF LEAP IN THERE BECAUSE I THINK IT'S VERY... I THINK IT'S VERY INTERESTING AND I THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT MIKE HARRIS WAS NOT A SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE. YOU'LL REMEMBER AFTER THE 1993 FEDERAL ELECTION WHEN THE REFORM PARTY SWEPT WESTERN CANADA AND ACTUALLY WON A SEAT IN ONTARIO, THE CONSERVATIVES IN THIS PROVINCE WERE QUITE WORRIED BECAUSE THEY HAD LOST PROBABLY 10 SEATS, THEY ESTIMATED 10 SEATS IN THE 1990s FOR PARTIES THAT TENDED TO BE ON THE RIGHT. THEY REALLY WERE WORRIED ABOUT HOW TO GET THAT FACTION OF THE PARTY, HOW TO NEUTRALIZE THAT, AND IT FELL TO TONY CLEMENT TO DO THAT. HE WAS THE PARTY PRESIDENT. BUT MIKE HARRIS WAS NOT... YOU KNOW, ABORTION, GAY RIGHTS WERE NOT ON THEIR AGENDA. IT WAS NOT SOMETHING THAT THEY WANTED TO DISCUSS, IT WAS NOT SOMETHING THEY DID DISCUSS. HARRIS MADE A POINT, AND ANY TIME HE WAS ASKED ABOUT THOSE KINDS OF ISSUES, HE DISMISSED THEM AND SAID THAT HE WAS INTERESTED ONLY IN THE FINANCIAL ASPECT, GETTING THIS PROVINCE BACK ON, YOU KNOW, THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW SORT OF THING.

Steve says CAN I FOLLOW UP WITH YOU ON THAT, CHRIS, BECAUSE YOU'RE QUITE RIGHT. HE DISAPPOINTED A LOT OF SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES WHEN HE DIDN'T MOVE TO CRIMINALIZE ABORTION, WHEN THE COURTS DECIDED THAT A BUNCH OF ONTARIO STATUTES HAD TO COME IN LINE WITH SAME-SEX RIGHTS, HE DID IT WITHOUT A FUSS OR MUSS. WAS HE, IN YOUR VIEW, POLITICALLY RIGHT TO DISAPPOINT THOSE SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES?

Christina says I THINK SO, ABSOLUTELY. AND I THINK THAT THERE IS A VERY IMPORTANT LESSON THERE FOR THE CONSERVATIVES TODAY. EVEN IN THE FEDERAL CAMPAIGN THAT WE SEE GOING ON WHERE THERE ARE TWO SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES WHO I BELIEVE ARE PERHAPS POISED TO BECOME, I DON'T KNOW, KINGMAKERS, WHATEVER. WE SAW THAT, YOU KNOW, WITH THE RACE THAT BROUGHT DOUG FORD INTO THE LEADERSHIP. I THINK THAT IN RECENT TIMES, THE SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES SEEM TO HAVE GAINED MORE AND MORE SUPPORT, AND I THINK THAT WHAT HARRIS PROVED IS THAT... OR HE SHOWED QUITE CLEARLY IS CONSERVATIVES DO BEST WHEN THEY STICK TO FISCAL CONSERVATISM. AND I'M NOT SURE I AGREED WITH MARTIN'S COMMENT EARLIER THAT HARRIS COULDN'T GET ELECTED TODAY. I THINK HE COULD BECAUSE I THINK THAT HE'S AVOIDED... HE AVOIDED A LOT OF THE MISTAKES THAT SOME OF THE CONSERVATIVES ARE MAKING RIGHT NOW AND WAS VERY EFFECTIVE, AS JIM FLAHERTY WAS THE ONE, I BELIEVE, WHO BROUGHT IN THE... CHANGED ALL THOSE REGULATIONS, VERY QUIETLY, VERY NEATLY, VERY SMOOTHLY. VERY AHEAD OF THE TIME IN DOING THAT AS WELL.

Steve says MARTIN, I DO NEED TO ASK YOU, BECAUSE OF TORONTO STAR, LET'S PUT IT THIS WAY, MIKE HARRIS WAS NOT THEIR FAVOURITE PREMIER. AND, YOU KNOW, THEY EDITORIALIZED AGAINST HIM PRETTY MUCH EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. MY QUESTION IS: IF HE WAS SUCH AN AWFUL PREMIER, AND I GUESS PEOPLE ON THE LEFT OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM HAVE TO HAVE AN ANSWER FOR THIS, IF HE WAS SUCH AN AWFUL PREMIER AND DID SO MANY BAD THINGS, HOW DID HE MANAGE TO GET RE-ELECTED FOUR YEARS LATER WITH AN EVEN LARGER PERCENTAGE OF THE TOTAL VOTES CAST?

Martin says AS I WARNED YOU, I WASN'T HERE, I WAS OVERSEAS FOR THE TORONTO STAR AT THE TIME, AND I THINK... THE FAVOURITE DAY OF THE WEEK, THE ONE DAY OF THE WEEK WHEN THE STAR DID SUPPORT HARRIS WAS AMALGAMATION. IT'S A QUESTION I OFTEN ASKED MYSELF. I DON'T HAVE A PARTICULARLY GREAT ANSWER FOR THAT. I THINK IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE ALTERNATIVES. OFTEN PEOPLE LOOK AT WHO WAS THE LESSER OF TWO OR THREE EVILS. FROM WHAT I'VE READ, DALTON McGUINTY WASN'T READY FOR PRIME TIME, ACCORDING TO THE TORY OR CONSERVATIVE PERENNIAL SLOGAN, AND I THINK MOST PEOPLE ADMIT THAT. PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE BEEN LOOKING AROUND. AS I UNDERSTAND IT, HE WAS QUITE POPULAR AT THE TIME. HE HAD GIVEN PEOPLE A NICE TAX CUT AND BALANCED THE BUDGET BY SELLING OFF A HIGHWAY THAT IS CALLED THE 407. SO, AGAIN, SHORT-TERM DISRUPTION, WAS MY POINT, DISRUPTION IS WHAT HE AND TRUMP AND FORD AND RONALD REAGAN FOR THAT MATTER SHARE. AND DON'T FORGET TOO, THAT YOU TALK ABOUT THE BLADES OF GRASS BEING CHOPPED OVER AT QUEENS PARK, THOSE BLADES WERE ALREADY SHRIVELED BY THE PROTESTS AGAINST BOB RAE BY THE UNION MOVEMENT. SO YOU HAVE ALL KINDS OF FRACTURING DURING THOSE FEW YEARS OF COURSE CORRECTIONS. THAT I THINK WORKED IN MIKE HARRIS' FAVOUR. THAT'S WHY MIKE HARRIS HAD THE WISDOM TO STEP DOWN A FEW YEARS LATER BECAUSE HE KNEW HE COULDN'T GET RE-ELECTED AND ERNIE EVES DISCOVERED THAT.

Steve says IN OUR LAST 20 SECONDS HERE, CHRISTINA, WHERE WOULD YOU PUT HIM IN TERMS OF THE HISTORY OF ONTARIO PREMIERS? HOW HIGH UP THE LIST WOULD YOU PUT HIM?

Christina says I THINK HE'S VERY IMPORTANT. I THINK HE MADE A LOT OF SIGNIFICANT CHANGES. I THINK HE CAME IN AT A TIME WHEN THE PROVINCE WAS IN VERY DIRE ECONOMIC... AS WE TALKED ABOUT. THERE WAS NO BUDGET IN 1995. IF YOU'LL REMEMBER, BOB RAE DROPPED THE WRIT WITHOUT EVEN HAVING A BUDGET AND HARRIS AND EVES HAD COME IN, TURNED THAT AROUND. THEY MADE SOME VERY SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO EDUCATION. I DON'T THINK YOU CAN DISMISS HIS IMPORTANCE IN THE HISTORY OF ONTARIO POLITICS. HE WAS VERY SIGNIFICANT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin."

Steve says WHICH IS WHY WE ARE TALKING ABOUT HIM 25 YEARS TO THE DAY THAT HE WAS SWORN IN AS ONTARIO'S 22nd PREMIER. CHRISTINA BLIZZARD AND MARTIN REGG COHN, IT'S ALWAYS GREAT HAVING YOU TWO ON TVO. THANKS SO MUCH.

Christina says THANKS, STEVE.

Martin says MY PLEASURE.

Watch: Did The Common Sense Revolution Work?