Transcript: Is Ontario's PC Party Too Moderate? | Nov 16, 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, checkered pink shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Is Ontario's PC party too moderate? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says WE ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT THE NEW BLUE PARTY AND WHAT IMPACT OUR NEXT GUESTS THINK IT CAN HAVE ON THE ONTARIO POLITICAL FIRMAMENT, BUT FIRST, WE SHOULD POINT OUT THAT JIM KARAHALIOS IS SUING THE ONTARIO PC PARTY FOR WHAT HE SAYS ARE IRREGULARITIES IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION THE PARTY HELD TWO YEARS AGO. AND WE SHOULD ADD THAT KARAHALIOS PREVIOUSLY SUED THE FEDERAL CONSERVATIVES FOR DEPRIVING HIM OF THE RIGHT TO RUN FOR THEIR LEADERSHIP EARLIER THIS YEAR, A CASE WHICH KARAHALIOS EVENTUALLY WON. AND AGAIN, MORE ON THIS LATER IN OUR DISCUSSION... MEANWHILE, IT WASN'T THAT LONG AGO THAT DOUG FORD GOT ELECTED TO BRING HIS PARTICULAR BRAND OF POPULIST, DISRUPTIVE CONSERVATISM TO QUEEN'S PARK. HE LOVED PICKING FIGHTS WITH THE MEDIA AND STIRRING THE POT. BUT SINCE THE PANDEMIC, BACK IN MARCH, IT'S BEEN A VERY DIFFERENT FORD, GOVERNING MORE LIKE A MODERATE, PRAGMATIC, PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, AND OFTEN COMPLIMENTING THE MEDIA FOR ITS WORK... EVEN THE TORONTO STAR. WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? WELL, LET'S FIND OUT, AS WE WELCOME: IN CHURCHILL MEADOWS, MISSISSAUGA: JASVEEN RATTAN, A 2019 CANDIDATE FOR THE FEDERAL CONSERVATIVES, AND DIRECTOR OF POLICY FOR PC WOMEN IN POLITICS...

Jasveen is in her thirties, with long curly brown hair with blond highlights. She's wearing a blue blazer.

Steve continues AND IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL: ON THE WATERFRONT: THERE'S DONALD BLAIR, HEAD OF PIVOTWORKS BUSINESS SYSTEMS, AND A LONG-TIME PC PARTY BACKROOM GUY...

Donald is in his forties, bald, with a trimmed goatee. He's wearing a black suit and a white shirt.

Steve continues IN THE ANNEX: MELISSA LANTSMAN, VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC AFFAIRS FOR ENTERPRISE CANADA. SHE ALSO RAN DOUG FORD'S 2018 ELECTION WAR ROOM...

Melissa is in her thirties, with brown hair in a pompadour, cropped at the temples. She's wearing a blue suit and a white shirt.

Steve continues AND, A STONE'S THROW FROM QUEEN'S PARK: BRIAN LILLEY, POLITICAL COLUMNIST FOR THE TORONTO SUN...

Brian is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short blond hair. He's wearing a black suit and a checkered gray shirt.

Steve continues IT'S GREAT TO WELCOME YOU FOUR ONTO OUR AIRWAVES TONIGHT. MELISSA, I DO WANT TO START WITH YOU BECAUSE MY FAVOURITE QUOTE OF ALL TIME ABOUT THE PREMIER WAS ONE YOU SAID RIGHT HERE ON THIS PROGRAM JUST AFTER HE GOT ELECTED. HE SAID THE PREMIER IS A BULL WHO BRINGS HIS OWN CHINA SHOP WITH HIM WHEREVER HE GOES. THAT IS HIS STYLE OF LEADERSHIP. THAT WAS CERTAINLY TRUE IN 2018 AND '19. IT DOESN'T SEEM TO BE TRUE ANYMORE. LET'S FIND OUT WHY. WHY DO YOU THINK NOT?

The caption changes to "Melissa Lantsman. Enterprise Canada."
Then, it changes again to "A different Doug Ford."

Melissa says WELL, LOOK. I THINK THE POPULIST LABEL ISN'T FOR ANY POLITICIAN THAT DOESN'T FOLLOW THE MAINSTREAM OR WHO DOESN'T DEVIATE FROM IT, I SHOULD SAY. WHAT YOU MIGHT BE EXPERIENCING IS ACTUAL EMPATHY, EMOTION, AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT, YOU KNOW, FORD HAD DEEP DOWN INSIDE. SOME WOULD SAY THAT THIS IS THE REAL FORD. AND I THINK YOU'RE RIGHT IN SAYING THAT YOU'RE NOT SEEING THAT POPULIST BENT, IF THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT TO CALL IT, BECAUSE I THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY ALL OF THE TENETS OF POPULISM SIMPLY AREN'T THERE. HE'S EMBRACED PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS. HE'S ABDICATED MOST OF THE DECISION-MAKING RESPONSIBILITY TO THEM. AND THAT CERTAINLY ISN'T THE DOUG FORD THAT YOU WOULD EXPECT BUT IT'S THE ONE THAT GOT, FRANKLY, A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION.

Steve says BRIAN, HOW DIFFERENT IS THE 2020 VERSION OF DOUG FORD FROM THE ONE THAT GOT ELECTED TWO YEARS-PLUS AGO?

The caption changes to "Brian Lilley. Toronto Sun."

Brian says I THINK THAT THERE'S A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PUBLIC PERSONA AND THE ACTUAL MAN. IS THERE A DIFFERENCE IN THE MEN? WELL, MAYBE IN HOW THEY'RE REACTING OR INTERACTING, BUT I THINK MELISSA MADE A COMMENT ABOUT MAYBE YOU'RE SEEING THE REAL DOUG FORD. AND I WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE TO AGREE WITH THAT. I GOT TO KNOW DOUG FORD BEFORE HE WAS IN POLITICS A LITTLE AND I'VE GOTTEN TO KNOW HIM SINCE COVERING HIM THE LAST TWO YEARS. YOU KNOW, HIS PUBLIC, YOU KNOW, PRESENTATION IS VASTLY DIFFERENT. HE SOMETIMES STILL CALLS OUT THE MEDIA, TRUST ME ON THAT. I'VE BEEN ON THE RECEIVING END OF THAT. BUT HE IS MOSTLY, AS MELISSA SAID, EMBRACING PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS. YOU KNOW, AS FAR AS POPULISM GOES, HE IS FOLLOWING WHERE THE MAJORITY OF THE PUBLIC IS. I DON'T KNOW IF HE'S LEADING WHERE RELEVANT MAJORITY OF THE PUBLIC IS, BUT HE'S DEFINITELY WITH WHERE THE POPULATION IS. IF YOU LOOK AT POLLS, ONTARIO IS THE MOST SKITTISH PROVINCE WHEN IT COMES TO COVID-19, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE NUMBERS EXCLUDING ATLANTIC CANADA WHERE THEY WEREN'T HIT HARD, ONTARIO IS DOING BETTER THAN QUEBEC, BETTER THAN ALBERTA, BETTER THAN BRITISH COLUMBIA. BUT HE IS FOLLOWING THAT SAME ZEITGEIST THAT THE PUBLIC HAS IN TERMS OF HOW THEY FEEL ABOUT THIS PANDEMIC.

Steve says JASVEEN, I WANT TO... WELL, YOU'RE AN INTRIGUING INCLUSION IN THIS GROUP BECAUSE YOU'VE ONLY BEEN A CONSERVATIVE FOR A LITTLE WHILE, RIGHT? CAN YOU JUST TAKE US BACK? YOU WERE A LIBERAL... I SHOULD SAY YOUR FAMILY GENERALLY, YOU KNOW, KIND OF LEANED LIBERAL BEFORE YOU JOINED THE CONSERVATIVES; IS THAT FAIR TO SAY?

The caption changes to "Jasveen Rattan. PC Women in Politics."

Jasveen says YEAH, THAT'S RIGHT, STEVE. I HAVE GROWN UP IN CANADA AND MY FAMILY HAS BEEN PREDOMINANTLY LIBERAL, SO THAT'S WHERE I VOTED ALL MY LIFE. AND WHEN I MADE THE DECISION TO GET INVOLVED IN 2017, IT WAS JUST ISSUES I HAD WITH THE GOVERNMENT AT THE TIME AND WANTED TO SEE WHERE I WOULD FIT. SO THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVES ARE WHERE I DECIDED TO CALL HOME AND THERE'S MANY REASONS FOR THAT. AND BACK TO WHAT EVERYBODY ELSE IS SAYING HERE TODAY. THE PREMIER HAS SHOWN THAT HE NEEDS... I MEAN, FIRST OF ALL, HE'S IN AN UNPRECEDENTED SITUATION AND HE'S SHOWED THAT HE'S DOING WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN THIS SITUATION. I THINK THAT FOR ME, I FEEL THAT IT'S TRUE TO WHAT I BELIEVE THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVES TO BE EVEN WITH THE DEFINITION OF THE NAME PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE. SO FOR ME I'M GLAD THAT THE PREMIER'S ALLOWED TO SHOW HIS TRUE SELF [indiscernible].

Steve says LET ME DO A FOLLOW-UP WITH YOU, JASVEEN, BECAUSE IF MEMORY SERVES YOU DID NOT SUPPORT THE PREMIER WHEN HE RAN FOR THE LEADERSHIP OF THE PARTY, THIS IS GOING BACK TO JANUARY OF 2017. I'M CURIOUS... HE WASN'T YOUR FIRST CHOICE THEN. HOW IS HE DOING NOW?

Jasveen says TO BE HONEST, THE PREMIER HAS BEEN, AND I SAY THIS IN MY DIRECTOR OF POLICY ROLE, OF PC WOMEN IN POLITICS, THE PREMIER HAS BEEN MORE THAN SUPPORTIVE OF THE PC WOMEN IN POLITICS. FOR ME, I'VE LEARNED A LOT SINCE 2018. I GUESS FOR ME AND I MENTIONED THIS TO YOU AS WELL, STEVE, WE HAD SUCH GREAT WOMEN CANDIDATES AT THE TIME RUNNING AND WE HAD THREE WOMEN CANDIDATES AND ONE THAT WAS NEW TO THIS PARTY, I REFLECTED ON HOW COULD THIS BE POSSIBLE? BUT, YOU KNOW, SINCE THEN AND SINCE I'VE MET THE PREMIER PERSONALLY AND SEEN WHO HE IS AND REALIZE THAT I BELIEVE THAT I'M [indiscernible] SUPPORT HIM.

Steve says DONALD, I'M CURIOUS FROM YOUR STANDPOINT WHICH DOUG FORD YOU LIKE BETTER. THE BOMBASTIC BULL WHO BROUGHT HIS CHINA SHOP WITH HIM WHEREVER HE WENT TWO YEARS AGO OR THE GUY NOW WHO IS TRYING TO CHANNEL HIS INNER BILL DAVIS, IF I CAN PUT IT THAT WAY?

The caption changes to "Donald Blair. Pivotworks Business Systems."

Donald says I FIRST HAVE TO START BY SAYING THAT NO FAMILY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD IS MORE CANTANKEROUS A BUNCH THAN THE CONSERVATIVE FAMILY. YOU'LL NEVER MEET A GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT ARE CONSTANTLY FIGHTING AND DISAGREEING OR AGREEING WITH EACH OTHER, AND IT'S ONE REALLY, TRULY BIG TENT. AND SO WITH THAT IN MIND, I DON'T LIKE THIS CONSTANT COMPARISON OF DOUG FORD TO BILL DAVIS. THERE WAS ONLY EVER ONE BILL DAVIS. THERE WAS EVER ONLY ONE JOHN ROBARTS, MY FAVOURITE...

Steve says IS THAT HIS PICTURE OVER YOUR SHOULDER?

A closeup shows a black and white portrait of a middle-aged man with a mustache hanging on a wall behind Donald.

Donald says THAT IS. THAT'S SUPPOSED TO BE IN QUEEN'S PARK. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW I GOT IT. THAT'S JOHN ROBARTS, THE FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF ONTARIO. THIS IS AN AFFIRMATION OF THE DOUG FORD WE KNEW WE WERE GOING TO GET. IT DIDN'T SEEM LIKE IT AT THE TIME, BECAUSE IT'S PARTY POLITICS, IT'S ELECTORAL POLITICS, AND DURING A CAMPAIGN YOU'RE GOING TO SO THE MORE BOMBASTIC SIDES OF A PREMIER IN ORDER TO WIN AN ELECTION. WE KNOW HOW DOUG FORD BECAME THE LEADER OF THE PC PARTY. IT WAS THROUGH A VERY DIFFICULT PROCESS. AND AS A RESULT, WE HAVE NOW DOUG FORD. AND THAT'S GREAT FOR HOW QUICKLY THE PARTY WAS ABLE TO MOVE FORWARD AND END UP WINNING THE ELECTION, BUT I DON'T THINK THAT IT'S A SHOCKER TO SEE THAT DOUG FORD IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC, IN THE MIDDLE OF WHAT'S GOING ON RIGHT NOW, HAS SORT OF, IF YOU WANT TO SAY, TURNED THE OTHER CHEEK. I AGREED WITH MELISSA, THIS IS MORE OF AN EMPATHY DOUG FORD, THIS IS MORE OF A CARING DOUG FORD, AND IT WAS ALWAYS THERE. IF WE LOOK AT THE WAY THAT HE RESPONDED WHEN HIS BROTHER, THE FORMER MAYOR OF TORONTO ROB FORD DIED, I THINK THAT ASIDE FROM THE TWO OF THEM BEING SO CLOSE, YOU COULD REALLY SEE THE KIND OF PERSON THAT DOUG FORD REALLY WAS, AND EVEN THEN, WHEN HE RAN FOR MAYOR, A LOT OF PEOPLE MADE THE COMPARISON BETWEEN DOUG AND ROB SAYING THAT DOUG SEEMED TO BE MORE OF THE CALMER, MORE SENSIBLE VOICE ON CITY COUNCIL SOME OF THE TIME AS OPPOSED TO THE CHAOS OF ROB FORD. I THINK TODAY ALL WE'RE SEEING IS A BETTER, SMARTER LEADER. HE'S GROWN INTO THE ROLE. HE'S GROWN INTO IT VERY WELL. HE UNDERSTANDS WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. I DON'T LIKE THIS, AGAIN, COMPARISON OF ROB FORD TO BILL DAVIS OR DOUG FORD TO BILL DAVIS OR DOUG FORD TO LARRY GROSSMAN OR DOUG FORD, ALL THESE OTHER FAIRLY PROGRESSIVE LEADERS IN THE PARTY'S HISTORY BECAUSE THERE'S ONLY ONE DOUG FORD...

Steve says I GET YOU, DONALD, I GET YOU. BUT I HAVE TO SAY, I THINK IT WAS BACK IN MARCH THAT THE PREMIER STARTED HIS DAILY BRIEFINGS, AND WHEN HE SAID THE CLIP THAT I'M ABOUT TO SHOW YOU, WELL, UM, I THINK IT TOOK A LOT OF PEOPLE BY SURPRISE, LET'S PUT IT THAT WAY. SHELDON, LET'S ROLL THAT CLIP, IF YOU WOULD?

A clip plays on screen with the caption "March 19, 2020."

In the clip, Premier Doug Ford gives a statement.

He says I WANT TO THANK THE MEDIA. YOU'RE PLAYING A MASSIVE ROLE IN HELPING US OUT. I JUST... I JUST WANT TO... I WANT TO THANK YOU. THERE WAS AN ARTICLE IN THE STAR... THE STAR WRITES GREAT ARTICLES.

The clip ends.

Steve says OKAY, BRIAN, WHEN YOU HEARD THAT, WHAT DID YOU THINK?

[LAUGHTER]

Brian says THE STAR DOES WRITE GREAT ARTICLES SOMETIMES. YOU KNOW, IN THE MEDIA, WE ARE COMPETITORS AT TIMES AND WE ALSO WILL READ EACH OTHER'S STUFF, WATCH EACH OTHER'S STUFF AND, YEAH. SO WAS I SURPRISED BY THAT? NOT NECESSARILY. AT THAT POINT IN PARTICULAR, THE GOVERNMENT NEEDED THE MEDIA TO GET THE MESSAGE OUT. LOOK, I WAS AT THE VERY FIRST PRESS CONFERENCE FOR COVID-19 ARRIVING ON JANUARY 25TH. I'M SUPPOSED TO BE GETTING READY TO GO TO A ROBBIE BURNS DINNER AND I'VE GOT MY KILT LAID OUT READY TO GO AND I GET THE MESSAGE, BE AT QUEEN'S PARK FOR 5:00. AND ALL OF A SUDDEN THE WORLD CHANGES. BUT FOR A MONTH AND A HALF, IT WAS: DON'T WORRY. IT'S NOT THAT BAD. AND THEN OVERNIGHT, EVERYTHING CHANGED. AND THEY NEEDED TO GET THAT MESSAGE OUT. AND SO HE RELIED HEAVILY ON THE MEDIA FOR THAT. HE'S RELIED HEAVILY ON THE MEDIA FOR HIS DAILY PRESS BRIEFING. I'M NOT SURE THAT THEY STILL ACCOMPLISH WHAT THEY SHOULD. I THINK THEY SHOULD HAVE ENDED A WHILE BACK. THE PRIME MINISTER'S DOWN TO TWO A DAY. JOHN TORY IN TORONTO IS DOWN TO TWO A DAY...

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says I THINK YOU MEAN TWO A WEEK, DON'T YOU?

Brian says TWO A WEEK, SORRY. TWO A WEEK. HEAVEN FORBID THEY DO TWO A DAY. MY DAY WOULD NEVER END. BUT I THINK THE PREMIER PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE DONE THAT BUT HE STARTED TO RELY ON THE MEDIA BECAUSE IT DOES HELP HIS POPULARITY. IT DOES HELP SHOW THAT OTHER CARING SIDE OF HIM. HOW LONG WILL THAT LAST? WE'LL HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE.

Steve says THAT'S A FACT, MELISSA. THE REALITY IS HE WENT FROM ONE OF THE MOST UNPOPULAR PREMIERS IN THE COUNTRY TO ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR IN THE COUNTRY, FIRST OR SECOND OR THIRD, YOU KNOW, DEPENDING ON WHICH POLL YOU LOOKED AT, AND PRESUMABLY THESE DAILY BRIEFINGS HELPED HIM. BUT I STILL NEED TO KNOW HOW... HOW DID DOUG FORD GO FROM THE GUY WHO COULDN'T STAND THE STAFF, WHO WAS PREPARED TO SUE THE TORONTO STAR, TO A GUY LITERALLY A FEW DAYS AFTER THIS PANDEMIC BROKE WHO SAID, BOY, THE MEDIA'S IS REALLY HELPFUL AND THE STAR HAS GOT SOME GREAT ARTICLES IN IT. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

The caption changes to "Melissa Lantsman, @MelissaLantsman."

Melissa says I ACTUALLY THINK IT'S MUCH BIGGER THAN ANY SORT OF ONE MEDIA OUTLET. STEVE, LOOK AT IT. THE CONSERVATIVES GENERALLY RELY ON GOING OVER THE MEDIA MESSAGE THROUGH DIRECT DIGITAL TARGETING AND FRANKLY THE PANDEMIC DIDN'T ALLOW THEM TO DO IT. TO BRIAN'S POINT, THEY ACTUALLY NEEDED THE MEDIA TO GET THE MESSAGE OUT. WITH REGARDS TO, YOU KNOW, GOVERNING FROM WHAT I CALL THE 1:00 PODIUM, I THINK THERE IS... THERE'S A REAL RISK IN THAT BECAUSE WE ARE ALL SUBJECT TO SORT OF A COMMUNICATIONS ROLLOUT CALENDAR WHERE YOU NEED TO FILL IN EVERY DAY WITH AN EVENT AND THE FEAR IS THAT YOU'RE NOT ACTUALLY PLANNING. LOOK, THIS GOVERNMENT STARTED WITH A MAJORITY, YOU KNOW, A PLAN TO GET THE FISCAL HOUSE IN ORDER IN ONTARIO AND JUST OVERNIGHT THAT HAS DISAPPEARED. SO, YOU KNOW, WHETHER IT'S THE NEW DOUG FORD, THE OLD DOUG FORD, OR IS A MATTER OF CIRCUMSTANCE, I THINK THEY'RE IN A VERY DIFFERENT POSITION AND I THINK ONTARIANS EXPECT SOMETHING VERY DIFFERENT FROM THEIR GOVERNMENT TODAY THAN THEY DID BEFORE THAT PRESS CONFERENCE THAT BRIAN WENT TO IN JANUARY.

Steve says DONALD, MAYBE I CAN GET YOU TO WEIGH IN ON THAT. THERE'S GOT TO BE A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION, THERE IS IN EVERY OFFICE, ABOUT HOW MUCH TO PUT THE LEADER OUT THERE AND HOW MUCH TO SORT OF KEEP THE LEADER BACK A LITTLE BIT. AND CLEARLY THIS OFFICE, FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, HAS DECIDED THEY WANT THE PREMIER OUT THERE AT MELISSA, AS SHE CALLS IT, 1:00 PODIUM EVERY SINGLE DAY, PRETTY MUCH EVERY SINGLE DAY... I THINK THEY TOOK REMEMBRANCE DAY OFF... BUT IT'S BASICALLY EVERY DAY WITH A NEW ANNOUNCEMENT AND TAKING WHATEVER IT IS, 15, 20, 30 MINUTES OF QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA. DO YOU THINK THE PREMIER IS OUT THERE TOO MUCH, OR IS IT OKAY?

The caption changes to "Donald Blair, @donaldblair."

Donald says I AGREE THAT, YOU KNOW, AT THIS POINT, THERE'S PROBABLY NOT MUCH OF A REASON TO CONTINUE WITH SUCH HEAVY DAILY BRIEFINGS. WE KNOW WHAT THE SCORE IS RIGHT NOW AND I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE KIND OF GETTING A PRETTY GOOD PICTURE OF WHAT THE LAY OF THE LAND IS. THEY'VE GOT A GOOD PICTURE OF THE LAY OF THE LAND. BUT THIS SECOND WAVE I THINK IS NOW GOING TO CHALLENGE US A LITTLE BIT MORE THAN THE FIRST. SO THERE CAN BE AN ARGUMENT MADE FOR HIM TO CONTINUE TO BE OUT THERE AND BE ON THAT 1:00 PODIUM. I THINK... THE WAY I SEE IT, DOUG FORD IS DOING HIS LEVEL BEST WITH THE MEDIA BECAUSE THESE ARE LESSONS THAT I THINK HE'S LEARNED EITHER THROUGH BEING AT CITY HALL OR IN THE VERY EARLY PART OF HIS TENURE AS PREMIER. I THINK THAT BY HAVING THOSE LESSONS COME FULL CIRCLE IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC HAS HELPED HIM GREATLY. I THINK THAT HE'S ALSO BUILT A PRETTY STRONG RELATIONSHIP WITH PEOPLE THAT WE NEVER EXPECTED HIM TO HAVE, LIKE CHRYSTIA FREELAND. THE TWO OF THEM HAVE BECOME BUDDY-BUDDY, WHICH IS KIND OF INTERESTING TO SEE. BUT I DON'T THINK THAT THERE IS A... I DON'T THINK THAT THERE'S A REAL DIFFERENCE NOW THAT'S BEEN SO GREAT THAT WE NOW HAVE TO SAY, IS THIS A TOTALLY NEW DOUG FORD? IS THIS SOMETHING THAT WE'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE? I THINK IT'S ALWAYS BEEN THERE. I THINK IT JUST NEEDED TO MAKE AN APPEARANCE THROUGH SOMETHING AS BIG AS THIS.

Steve says OKAY. LET ME JUMP ON THAT ANGLE. I WANT TO PICK UP ON THE RELATIONSHIP ANGLE BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, YOU'RE QUITE RIGHT. THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, CHRYSTIA FREELAND, IN THE PAST I THINK CALLED DOUG FORD MY THERAPIST BECAUSE THE TWO OF THEM HAVE SO MANY CALLS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TOGETHER TRYING TO DEAL WITH THIS PANDEMIC. WE'VE HEARD THE PREMIER SAY SOME WONDERFUL THINGS ABOUT THE PRIME MINISTER OF THE COUNTRY. WE'VE HEARD THE PRIME MINISTER SAY SOME WONDERFUL THINGS ABOUT DOUG FORD. THESE WERE TWO PEOPLE WHO HAD NOTHING NICE TO SAY ABOUT EACH OTHER BACK IN 2018 DURING THE ONTARIO ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND THEN AGAIN IN '19 WHEN THE PRIME MINISTER WAS RUNNING FOR REELECTION. JASVEEN, MY QUESTION, THOUGH, IS: WITH DOUG FORD SAYING NICE THINGS ABOUT THE MEDIA, WITH DOUG FORD SAYING NICE THINGS ABOUT LIBERALS, DO YOU THINK HE IS TRYING THE PATIENCE OF THE TORY CORE OF THE PARTY?

The caption changes to "Jasveen Rattan, @jasveenrattan."

Jasveen says I GUESS... WELL, A COUPLE... NOT A COUPLE OF DIFFERENT THINGS. I THINK THE FIRST THING I WOULD LIKE TO SAY AND I THINK MELISSA AND BRIAN [indiscernible] IS THAT CONSERVATIVES HAVE A REALLY NEGATIVE... A NEGATIVE... I GUESS PEOPLE HAVE A NEGATIVE OPINION OF CONSERVATIVES AND THE MEDIA IN TERMS OF WHAT IS BEING PORTRAYED. THROUGHOUT MY WORK IN THE THINGS THAT I'VE DONE, I'VE MET MEDIA SEVERAL TIMES AND THEY ALWAYS SAY TO ME, YOU'RE SO NICE, YOU'RE SO NICE. AND I SAY TELL YOUR FRIENDS THAT CONSERVATIVES ARE NICE BECAUSE I FEEL THIS IS THE THING THAT'S BEING PORTRAYED. SO BACK TO WHAT YOU'RE SAYING. I FEEL THAT THE PREMIER AND... I THINK, BACK TO THIS BEING AN UNPRECEDENTED SITUATION. SOMETHING THAT GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN THIS COUNTRY REALLY NEED TO, I BELIEVE, PUT ASIDE PARTISAN POLITICS AND COME TOGETHER AND REALLY WORK FOR THE PEOPLE, WHICH WE KNOW IS THE PREMIER'S PLAN. I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS PERHAPS WE CAN FOCUS ON AND PERHAPS MORE PRESSURE COULD COME ON IS PROMOTING TESTING, SUCH AS RAPID TESTING, BECAUSE THAT IS SOMETHING THAT WILL HELP TO OPEN THE ECONOMY, AND RIGHT NOW THERE SEEMS TO BE A HOLDUP WITH TESTING IN CANADA FOR COVID. I THINK THAT'S ONE WAY PERHAPS, IN TERMS OF MOVING FORWARD, IS MAYBE PERHAPS TOGETHER THEY CAN COME UP WITH AND AGREE TO THAT AND THAT WOULD BE VERY HELPFUL.

Steve says BRIAN, I WONDER IF YOU COULD BUILD ON THAT. DO YOU THINK THE CONSERVATIVE CORE OF THIS PARTY IS... WELL, HOW DO THEY FEEL ABOUT DOUG FORD'S INCREASINGLY GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND MOVE, IF YOU LIKE, MORE TO THE CENTRE OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM?

The caption changes to "Brian Lilley, @brianlilley."

Brian says I THINK WITH VOTERS IN GENERAL, THE WIDE VOTING POLITICIAN, IT'S PROBABLY PLAYING WELL. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE WE ALL HEARD OVER THE PAST DECADE, "OH, I JUST WISH THEY WOULD GET TOGETHER. STOP FIGHTING. WORK TOGETHER." WELL, THEY'RE DOING THAT NOW. SOMETIMES DOUG FORD IS A BIT TOO EFFUSIVE IN HIS PRAISE FOR JUSTIN TRUDEAU AND THE LIBERALS AND CHRYSTIA FREELAND, MORE SO THAN... I MEAN, IT'S NOT EXACTLY AN EVEN TWO-WAY STREET. I'VE BEEN TO EVENTS AND COVERED EVENTS WHERE THEY'RE BOTH SPEAKING THERE AND THE PREMIER IS EFFUSIVE IN HIS PRAISE OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND JUSTIN TRUDEAU WILL SAY A NICE WORD OR TWO. THE CONSERVATIVE BASE NOTICES THAT AND SAYS, WAIT A MINUTE. IT'S NOT RECIPROCAL. AND, YOU KNOW, EVENTUALLY IT'S GOING TO TURN AROUND. IN FACT, THE PRIME MINISTER HAS TAKEN SOME POTSHOTS. HE DID JUST LAST FRIDAY OVER THE SHOOTING UP AT JANE AND FINCH IN THE NORTH END OF TORONTO. HE WAS BLAMING THE PREMIERS FOR NOT ALLOWING MAYORS TO PASS THE HANDGUN BAN WHEN COMMENTING ABOUT THE TRAGIC SHOOTING OF THE 12-YEAR-OLD BOY. IF YOU'RE WORKING SO WELL TOGETHER, YOU DON'T DO THINGS LIKE THAT. FORD HAS TO BE WARY OF THAT FOR TWO REASONS: ONE, IT MAY PLAY WELL WITH VOTERS IN GENERAL, BUT THE VOLUNTEERS THAT COME OUT, THEY STILL TO KNOW YOU'RE ON THEIR TEAM. HE CAN SAY I DON'T CARE ABOUT BLUE TEAM, RED TEAM, ORANGE TEAM... WELL, THE PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH. THE LIBERALS ALWAYS CARE ABOUT WHAT TEAM YOU'RE ON AND IT BETTER BE THE RED TEAM OR THEY'RE COMING FOR YOU WHEN IT COMES TIME TO CAMPAIGN. SO I THINK THAT THE PREMIER NEEDS TO WAKEN UP TO THAT REALITY.

Steve says MELISSA, HOW ABOUT THAT? DOES THE PREMIER HAVE A BIT OF A PROBLEM WITH THE TORY CORE OF THE PARTY?

Melissa says LOOK, I THINK THAT, FRANKLY, THE PREMIER MIGHT HAVE A PROBLEM LATER ON. I THINK RIGHT NOW, WE'RE STILL AT THE POINT WHERE THE VIRUS IS THE ENEMY, AND AS WE GO THROUGH, YOU KNOW, WHETHER IT'S THE SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH, I DON'T PURPORT TO KNOW HOW LONG WE END UP LIVING WITH COVID AS A CRISIS, BUT AS SOON AS THAT... YOU KNOW, AS SOON AS THE VIRUS IS NOT THE ENEMY, THE POLITICIAN BECOMES THE ENEMY, AND FRANKLY THERE NEEDS TO BE A WEDGE BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM. NOW WITH UNPRECEDENTED SPENDING IN EACH LEVEL OF THAT GOVERNMENT, AND FRANKLY, YOU KNOW, THE LACK OF A PLAN ON ECONOMIC GROWTH, THERE ISN'T NECESSARILY SORT OF THE DIVISION THAT YOU WOULD GENERALLY SEE BETWEEN CONSERVATIVE AND LIBERAL POLICY. SO YOU'VE GOT TO BE VERY CAREFUL BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE ELECTORATE, GIVE THEM YOUR SALES PITCH, YOUR 30-SECOND ELEVATOR PITCH ABOUT WHY YOU SHOULD EITHER CONTINUE OR WHY THEY SHOULD THROW YOU OUT. AND I'M NOT SURE THAT NECESSARILY, YOU KNOW, IT'S SO DIFFERENT ON THE ISSUES THAT I THINK SORT OF RANK AT THE TOP OF THE BALLOT OF THE AVERAGE VOTER THAT FRANKLY SWINGS BETWEEN THE TWO OF THEM IN THIS PROVINCE.

The caption changes to "Core views and values."

Steve says YOU'LL RECALL A FEW MOMENTS AGO WE PLAYED A CLIP FROM DOUG FORD FROM SEVERAL MONTHS AGO WHICH SURPRISED A LOT OF PEOPLE WHEN HE HAD NICE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT THE MEDIA. WE'RE GOING TO PLAY ANOTHER CLIP NOW. THIS IS AGAIN PREMIER FORD AT ONE OF HIS DAILY BRIEFINGS, AND HOW DO I PUT THIS ONE? LET'S PUT IT THIS WAY: PREMIER FORD GOT ELECTED IN PART BECAUSE HE GAVE VOICE TO A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THIS PROVINCE WHO FELT VOICELESS. THEY WERE MISTRUSTFUL OF PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS, LIKE, FOR EXAMPLE, MEDICAL OFFICERS OF HEALTH, AND THEN ONE DAY AT A DAILY BRIEFING, THERE WERE I GUESS A FEW DOZEN PROTESTS ON THE SOUTH LAWN OF QUEEN'S PARK DECLINING TO SOCIALLY DISTANCE, DECLINING TO WEAR MASKS, AND, UM, WELL, THE PREMIER WAS ASKED WHAT HE THOUGHT ABOUT THOSE FOLKS. SHELDON, THE CLIP, PLEASE?

A clip plays on screen with the caption "April 25, 2020."
In the clip, Premier Ford gives a statement, flanked by the provincial Ministers.

He says WE HAVE, YOU KNOW, A BUNCH OF YAHOOS OUT IN THE FRONT OF QUEEN'S PARK SITTING THERE PROTESTING THAT THE PLACE ISN'T OPEN, THEY'RE BREAKING THE LAW AND PUTTING EVERYONE IN JEOPARDY. THESE PEOPLE ARE ABSOLUTELY IRRESPONSIBLE. IT'S RECKLESS TO DO WHAT THEY'RE DOING. AND PERSONALLY, I THINK IT'S SELFISH.

The clip ends.

Steve says DONALD, WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THAT LINE?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Donald says I THINK HE'S RIGHT AND I THINK HE HAD TO SAY IT. AND I THINK THIS IS THE KIND OF DOUG FORD THAT WE HAD BEEN USED TO IN THAT HE WOULD SAY SOMETHING THAT OFF-THE-CUFF AND THAT DIRECT AND THAT BOLD, BUT IT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE. WHETHER WE... REGARDLESS OF HOW ANYBODY AGREES OR WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT THIS PANDEMIC OR WHETHER OR NOT THERE SHOULD BE LOCKDOWNS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT, THERE'S ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER: YOU NEED LEADERSHIP AT THIS TIME. AND THAT'S I THINK WHAT WE'RE GETTING BY AND LARGE FROM DOUG FORD IS THAT SENSE OF LEADERSHIP AND THE REAL LEADERSHIP THAT SPEAKS TO THOSE PEOPLE WHO OTHERWISE, AS YOU SAID, FELT VOICELESS, AND COMMUNICATING TO THEM IN A WAY THAT THEY CAN ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND INSTEAD OF ALL THE POLI-SPEAK THAT THE FIVE OF US HERE ARE ALL VERY USED TO. KEEP SPEAKING DIRECTLY TO PEOPLE, SAYING DON'T DO THIS, YOU'RE CREATING A BIGGER PROBLEM THAN THERE NEEDS TO BE. I DON'T KNOW THAT THAT'S A BAD THING. I ALSO DON'T THINK... JUST TO AN EARLIER POINT, BRIAN HAD MADE THIS POINT AS WELL... YOU KNOW, HOW DO YOU... A LEADER IS ONE THAT REALLY DOES KNOW HOW TO WORK WELL WITH OTHERS. THE PERSON IN OTTAWA THAT'S THE RACIST FRAUD PRETENDING TO BE THE PRIME MINISTER RIGHT NOW IS NOT A GOOD EXAMPLE OF HOW TO LEAD AND HAVE THAT TRICKLE DOWN TO THE PROVINCE, AS BRIAN SAID, LETTING THE PROVINCES AND THE MAYORS DEAL WITH THIS ORDER IN COUNCIL ON THE GUN BAN AS OPPOSED TO IT BEING A FEDERAL ISSUE AND BEING DEALT WITH AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL. THIS IS LEADERSHIP. THIS IS WHAT WE'RE SEEING. THIS IS WHAT WE WANTED. WE ALWAYS WANTED A LEADER THAT COULD SPEAK DIRECTLY AND CLEARLY TO PEOPLE, AND WHEN WE FINALLY GET THIS PERSON, PEOPLE THROW THEIR HANDS UP IN THE AIR AND SAY THIS ISN'T WHAT WE EXPECTED. IT IS WHAT WE GOT AND WE'RE DOING FAIRLY WELL BY IT. I THINK THAT THIS DOUG FORD TODAY HAS LEARNED SO MUCH MORE... AND I DON'T THINK HIS CAREER IS OVER EITHER. I THINK HE'S GOT SOME BIGGER DESTINY FOR HIM THAN JUST THE PREMIER'S OFFICE AT QUEEN'S PARK.

Steve says WE'LL HOLD THAT OFF FOR ANOTHER SHOW. BRIAN, LET ME GET YOU TO FOLLOW UP ON THIS ASPECT OF IT. YOU KNOW... WELL, I'LL PUT IT THIS WAY. THE FORMER CONSERVATIVE BACKBENCHER AMANDA SIMARD LEFT THE PARTY TO GO TO THE LIBERALS. RANDY HILLIER HAS LEFT THE PARTY. HE'S AN INDEPENDENT. JIM WILSON WAS BOOTED OUT OF THE CAUCUS. HE'S NOW AN INDEPENDENT. BELINDA KARAHALIOS WAS KICKED OUT OF THE CAUCUS. SHE IS NOW AN INDEPENDENT. LOSING FOUR MPPs ISN'T THE END OF THE WORLD, BUT BY THE SAME TOKEN, IT'S MORE THAN NORMALLY HAPPENS IN, YOU KNOW, IN LESS THAN ONE FULL TERM. DO YOU THINK CONSERVATIVES ARE CONCERNED THAT THEY REPRESENT A KIND OF CANARY IN THE COAL MINE AS TO THE HEALTH OF THE PC PARTY RIGHT NOW?

Brian says YOU KNOW, LOOK. IF YOU LOOK AT HOW THEY ALL LEFT, JIM WILSON LEFT FOR PERSONAL REASONS. AMANDA SIMARD LEFT BECAUSE SHE THOUGHT SHE HAD GREATER OPPORTUNITIES WITH THE LIBERALS. THAT WAS HER END GOAL. BELINDA KARAHALIOS, YOU KNOW, I'M JUST WAITING FOR HER AND HER HUSBAND JIM TO START THEIR OWN NEW PARTY. AS FAR AS RANDY HILLIER, THAT'S THE ONE THEY SHOULD HAVE WORKED OUT ABOUT INSTEAD IT WAS EGOS BATTLING OUT. THERE ARE UNIQUE AND INDIVIDUAL STORIES BEHIND EACH OF THEM. IF THEY WERE LOSING MAINSTREAM, MODERATE CONSERVATIVE VOICES, I WOULD SAY THERE'S PROBABLY A PROBLEM. YOU KNOW, I'VE COVERED MANY OF THESE PEOPLE FOR A LONG TIME. I THINK THAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO JUST FINE IN MOST OF THOSE RIDINGS COME THE NEXT ELECTION, SO, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE GOING TO LOSE... WHERE AMANDA SIMARD WAS, SHE WAS A FLUKE TO WIN IN A VERY FRANCOPHONE HEAVY RIDING IN EASTERN ONTARIO, AND THE LIBERALS ARE LIKELY GOING TO TAKE THAT BACK NEXT ELECTION. BUT THE REST OF THEM, THE PC PARTY WILL LIKELY WIN THOSE AND UNLESS THEY'RE SWEPT OUT OF POWER BECAUSE THE SECOND HALF OF THE PANDEMIC GOES INCREDIBLY BADLY.

Steve says JASVEEN, DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT THOSE FOUR NOT BEING PART OF THE PC FAMILY ANYMORE?

Jasveen says ACTUALLY, NO, I DON'T, STEVE. I HONESTLY BELIEVE, AND I AGREE WITH BRIAN, I THINK AT THIS POINT FOR ME THERE'S SO MANY DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS IN THIS PARTY RIGHT NOW, AND I TALKED TO YOU ABOUT THIS IN TERMS OF THE DEFINITIONS OF PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE ARE CONFLICTING IN NATURE AND THESE ARE THE ISSUES WHEN WE LOOK AT OUR PARTY WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY A CONSERVATIVE? I HAD PEOPLE SAY TO ME, YOU DO ALL THESE THINGS AND YOU'RE CONSERVATIVE? YES, I AM. I THINK FOR ME WHERE I SEE THE PARTY AS PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE AND THE PEOPLE THAT I KNOW AROUND ME, I BELIEVE THAT THE LOSS OF THESE PEOPLE, IT'S THEIR DECISION AND THEY MADE THESE CHOICES AS WELL AND HAVE MADE THEIR OWN STAND ON WHERE THEY SIT.

Steve says MELISSA, I DO WANT TO COME BACK TO THIS CLIP HERE. I SUSPECT YOU COULD MAKE AN ARGUMENT THAT THE PEOPLE PREMIER FORD WAS CALLING YAHOOS PROTESTING ON THE LAWN AT QUEEN'S PARK PROBABLY VOTED FOR HIM. THEY DON'T WANT THE GOVERNMENT TELLING THEM HOW TO LIVE THEIR LIVES, DON'T WANT THE GOVERNMENT TELLING THEM WHEN THEY HAVE TO OR DON'T HAVE TO PUT MASKS ON, BELIEVE IN PERSONAL FREEDOM AND THE RIGHT OF PEOPLE TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS, AND YET IF THEY WERE THE BASE OF FORD NATION, THE PREMIER BASICALLY INSULTED THEM IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY. HOW DID YOU SEE THAT WORKING OUT?

Melissa says WELL, I FIND IT INTERESTING THAT, YOU KNOW, YOU'RE PLAYING CLIPS OF AN EMPATHETIC PREMIER IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC OR HE DOES TOO MANY PRESS CONFERENCES AND WHEN HE DOESN'T HE DOES NOT ENOUGH PRESS CONFERENCES. I'M NOT SURE THAT HE CAN EVER GET IT RIGHT. BUT IN TERMS OF, THERE IS A VERY REASONABLE CONVERSATION TO BE HAD ABOUT THE LOCKDOWN MEASURES, THE ROLLING LOCKDOWN MEASURES. THESE FOUR AREN'T THE PEOPLE TO HAVE THAT CONVERSATION, AND THAT'S WHERE THE PREMIER IS LUCKY ON THAT ONE. THERE IS I THINK A GOOD SWATH OF CONSERVATIVES WHO FRANKLY DON'T BELIEVE THAT, YOU KNOW, THAT WE'RE TAKING THE RIGHT APPROACH, BUT GENERALLY PUBLIC OPINION DOES. AND THE PREMIER IS GOVERNING WITH THAT PUBLIC OPINION. SO THERE REALLY IS NO RISK BECAUSE THE MESSENGERS ON THIS HAVE STARTED EITHER THEIR OWN PARTY BECAUSE OF RESENTMENT OR ARE, YOU KNOW, TALKING ABOUT INTERNAL PARTY POLITICS THAT DOESN'T ACTUALLY GALVANIZE A GROUP AROUND AN ISSUE, IT JUST SORT OF REHASHES OLD CONFLICTS.

Steve says I GOT YOU. AND JUST TO BE CLEAR, I'M NOT CRITICIZING ANYTHING THAT THE PREMIER IS DOING RIGHT HERE. I THINK THE EMPIRICALLY PROVABLE FACTS, WHICH ARE THE PUBLIC OPINION POLL SURVEYS THAT I LOOK AT, SHOW THAT PEOPLE ARE HAPPY WITH THEIR PREMIER RIGHT NOW AND WITH THE PC PARTY IN GENERAL. I'M JUST ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT APPEARS TO BE A FASCINATING TRANSFORMATION IN THE GUY WHO GOT ELECTED TWO-PLUS YEARS AGO AND THE GUY WE SEE ON TELEVISION EVERY DAY AT 2:00 NOW. BRIAN, LET ME GET YOU TO WEIGH IN ON ANOTHER ROUND HERE AND THAT IS, I THINK IT'S FAIR TO SAY HE WON THE LEADERSHIP BACK IN JANUARY OF... OR, EXCUSE ME, IN MARCH OF 2018 BECAUSE HE MANAGED TO CONVINCE ENOUGH SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES THAT HE WAS FOR THEM, YOU KNOW, THAT HE WAS OPEN TO THEIR ISSUES. BUT THEN HE TURFED TANYA GRANIC ALLEN OUT OF THE PARTY BECAUSE OF SOME THINGS THAT SHE SAID. SHE WAS ONE OF THE LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES, AND NOW HE SEEMS TO SNEAK THROUGH THE BACK DOOR SOME HIGHER ACCREDITATION FOR CHARLES MCVITTIES' CANADIAN CHRISTIAN COLLEGE. CAN YOU HELP US UNDERSTAND WHAT'S GOING ON ON HERE?

Brian says NORMALLY WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO KEEP SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES ON SIDE WITH A CONSERVATIVE PARTY IS WHAT STEPHEN HARPER DID: DON'T MAKE THINGS WORSE. DON'T ANTAGONIZE THEM. DON'T CALL THEM NAMES. HE PARTLY WON BECAUSE OF SUPPORT FROM GRANITE-ALLEN AND ALSO BECAUSE CAROLINE MULRONEY DIDN'T BACK CHRISTINE ELLIOTT. I KNOW THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF GNASHING OF TEETH IN THE GALLERY ABOUT THIS BUT THIS IS THE SAME PROCESS A BUNCH OF SCHOOLS HAD TO GO THROUGH. THERE'S A CATHOLIC COLLEGE IN BARRIE, ONTARIO, THAT HE'S SPOKEN AT SEVERAL TIMES. I DON'T THINK YOU WOULD FIND GAY-STRAIGHT ALLIANCES THERE AND THE PREMIER AT THE TIME, WHEN THEY GOT ACCREDITATION, WAS KATHLEEN WYNNE. SO, YOU KNOW, THEY'LL GO THROUGH THE PROCESS. IF THEY ARE APPROVED BY THE ACADEMICS, MOST OF WHOM ARE KATHLEEN WYNNE APPOINTEES, THEN THEY'LL GET IT. IF THEY DON'T, THEY WON'T. AND THE WHOLE LEGISLATION ISSUE, WELL, THEY HAVE TO HAVE THE LEGISLATION THERE FOR WHEN THE ACCREDITATION ORGANIZATION SAYS YEA OR NAY. THEY STILL HAVEN'T PROCLAIMED IT FOR ALGOMA OR THE ONTARIO COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN. PEOPLE MAY BE READING A LOT MORE INTO THE CHARLES McVITTIE THING ON ALL SIDES.

Steve says IT WAS DALTON McGUINTY'S GOVERNMENT THAT ALLOWED REDEEMER COLLEGE TO NOW BE CALLED REDEEMER UNIVERSITY. THAT IS A RELIGIOUS-BASED ORGANIZATION IN THE OUTSKIRTS OF HAMILTON. SO, YES, THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE. NOTHING NEW HERE. BUT, JASVEEN, JUST ASKING THE QUESTION HERE, I WONDER IF WHAT THE PREMIER APPEARS TO HAVE TRIED TO DO ON THIS CANADIAN CHRISTIAN COLLEGE STORY, WHILE IT MAY BE GOOD FOR HIS SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE BASE, DO YOU WORRY THAT IT PUTS HIM OFFSIDE WITH THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN ONTARIO?

The caption changes to "Jasveen Rattan. Former Federal Conservative Candidate."

Jasveen says TO BE HONEST, I DON'T KNOW IF THE MAJORITY... NOT TO BE RUDE, STEVE... BUT I DON'T KNOW THAT THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN ONTARIO ARE REALLY THAT CONCERNED ABOUT THAT, AND I COULD BE WRONG WITH EVERYTHING ELSE AROUND THE PANDEMIC. BUT I DO WANT TO BRING UP A POINT, THIS ISSUE, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE THING THAT THE [indiscernible] PARTY IS TALKING ABOUT AND ESPECIALLY HOW BELINDA HAS TALKED ABOUT BILL 168 AND HOW IT IS CREATING... TAKING AN ISSUE AND SAYING IT'S GOING AGAINST THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN TO CHANGE THEIR SURNAMES AND FROM THERE ON. WHEN I WAS LISTENING TO HER SPEAK, WHEN I READ ABOUT IT, THERE'S ONLY 375 PEOPLE OUT OF 60,000 PEOPLE WHO WERE WORRIED ABOUT THIS CHANGE IN THE LAW. BACK TO THE SAME POINT WITH THE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE, PERHAPS IN TERMS OF VOTER BASE, THE PREMIER'S VOTER BASE, IN TERMS OF THE PARTY IT MAY HAVE AN EFFECT, BUT I FEEL THAT THE MESSAGING OF THE PARTY IS BECOMING CLEARER AND AS IT'S GOING ON, PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO MOVE AWAY AND WHATEVER WAY THAT IS, IT'S NOT FOR USE.

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Steve says IF OUR REMAINING MOMENTS, LET'S GO FULL CIRCLE AND COME BACK TO THE NEW BLUE PARTY WHICH WE STARTED THE PROGRAM WITH, THE KARAHALIOS COUPLE WHO STARTED THE SHOW. IF THERE ARE DISAFFECTED CONSERVATIVES WHO DON'T LIKE WHAT THEY'RE CURRENTLY SEEING WITH THE ONTARIO PC PARTY, HOW DOES THE NEW BLUE PARTY LOOK TO YOU AS AN ALTERNATIVE.

The caption changes to "The New Blue Party."

Melissa says I DON'T KNOW THAT THAT'S A SERIOUS POTENTIAL. A PARTY BASED FRANKLY ON RESENTMENT ABOUT HOW ITS INDIVIDUAL LEADERS HAVE BEEN TREATED BY THE PARTY IS NOT THE PARTY THAT THE REASONABLE CONSERVATIVE WHO IS CHALLENGING THE GOVERNMENT'S AGENDA IS GOING TO LOOK TO. I THINK THERE'S ALWAYS A RISK FOR CONSERVATIVE PARTIES TO SPLIT ON THE RIGHT, AND AS A RESULT, MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO GET REELECTED, BECAUSE I THINK THAT... I CAN SAY THIS WITH SOME CERTAINTY: THERE ARE MORE PROGRESSIVES IN ONTARIO THAN CONSERVATIVES, SO FRANKLY AN UNUNITED PARTY ON THE RIGHT IS A VERY DANGEROUS GAME FOR CONSERVATIVES, BUT THESE AREN'T THE PEOPLE THAT ARE GOING TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

Steve says BRIAN, WHAT DO YOU SAY?

Brian says I ALREADY SAID I'M WAITING FOR JIM KARAHALIOS TO SUE HIS OWN PARTY. HE SUED THE FEDERAL CONSERVATIVE PARTY, HE SUED THE ONTARIO PC PARTY, HE WILL EVENTUALLY SUE HIS OWN PARTY. BUT MELISSA IS RIGHT. HE'S BUILDING A PARTY BASED ON RESENTMENT, MUCH LIKE MAXIME BERNIER. BERNIER WAS JUST A SORE LOSER THAT HE DIDN'T WIN THE FEDERAL LEADERSHIP, AND THEN RAN ON A BUNCH OF THINGS THAT HE HAD NEVER RAISED IN CABINET IN THE 10 YEARS I COVERED HIM ON PARLIAMENT HILL, HE NEVER TALKED ABOUT, AND SUDDENLY IT BECAME THE THING. SO I'M EXCITED BERNIER-LEVEL SUCCESS FOR THE NEW KARAHALIOS PARTY.

Steve says LET ME FOLLOW UP WITH YOU ON THAT BECAUSE THERE WERE ALLEGATIONS MADE BY JIM KARAHALIOS ABOUT THE WAY THE PARTY DID SOME OF ITS BUSINESS. FOR EXAMPLE, NOMINATION MEETINGS THAT TOOK PLACE IN THE LEADUP TO THE 2018 ELECTION AND THERE WERE, FOR EXAMPLE, IN ONE OF THE EASTERN ONTARIO RIDINGS AROUND OTTAWA, THERE WERE X NUMBER OF NAMES ON A LIST ALLOWED TO VOTE AND THEN WHEN THEY COUNTED UP THE NUMBER OF VOTES, THERE WERE MORE BALLOTS IN THE BALLOT BOXES THAN NAMES ON THE LIST, AND KARAHALIOS CONCLUDED SOMEONE TRIED TO STUFF THE BALLOT BOXES. THAT'S A FAIRLY REASONABLE CONCLUSION TO COME TO, IS IT NOT?

Brian says OH, ABSOLUTELY. IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT OTTAWA WEST NEPEAN, I COVERED THAT, I COVERED THAT EXTENSIVELY WHEN I WAS IN OTTAWA, CFRA, THE RADIO STATION THERE, AND SAID THAT THERE NEEDED TO BE AN AIRING ON THIS. THERE WERE MANY. BUT THOSE WERE ALL PRIOR TO THE CURRENT PEOPLE RUNNING THE PARTY. THAT WAS UNDER A PREVIOUS LEADER AND A PREVIOUS BUNCH OF PEOPLE AT THE TOP OF THE PARTY. I ALWAYS THINK THAT PARTIES NEED TO CLEAN UP THEIR ACTS ON THESE THINGS, AND WE CAN LOOK TO BOTH THE LIBERALS AND THE NDP ON THAT AS WELL. NOT TO THE SAME DEGREE AS HAPPENED IN THAT LEADUP IN 2017-18, BUT JEREMY ROBERTS WAS DENIED A FAIR VOTE. HE EVENTUALLY GOT ONE AND NOW HE'S THE MPP FOR OTTAWA-WEST NEPEAN. THERE WERE A FEW OTHERS. YEAH, THOSE THINGS ALWAYS HAVE TO BE STAMPED OUT.

Steve says DONALD, LET ME FOLLOW UP WITH YOU ON THIS. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT BELINDA KARAHALIOS SAID SHE WAS REALLY OFFENDED BY WAS THE LACK OF WHAT SHE CALLED SIMPLE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS IN THE PC PARTY. FOR EXAMPLE, ALL THE CANDIDATES FOR THE NEXT ELECTION ARE BEING APPOINTED. THERE'S NO RUNNING FOR NOMINATIONS ANYMORE, WHICH SHE BELIEVES IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF DEMOCRACY. DOES SHE HAVE A POINT?

Donald says YES, SHE DOES. HOWEVER, I THINK THAT IN THE... WITH THE KARAHALIOS', I THINK THE THING IS THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OPPORTUNITY AND GOOD INTENTIONS. AND I ONLY EVER SEE NOW BELINDA AND JIM AS OPPORTUNISTS AND NOT SO MUCH AS CONCERNED ABOUT THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF CONSERVATISM IN ONTARIO AND THE PARTY'S SUCCESSES GOING FORWARD.

Steve says BUT IF I CAN JUMP IN THERE, DONALD. THEY DON'T SEE THE ONTARIO PC PARTY AS A VEHICLE FOR CONSERVATISM ANYMORE. THAT'S WHY THEY SAY THEY'RE STARTING THEIR OWN.

Donald says THIS IS WHAT I SAID AT THE START. YOU'LL NEVER MEET A GROUP OF MORE CANTANKEROUS FAMILY MEMBERS THAN CONSERVATIVES BECAUSE NOT ONE WILL EVER AGREE WITH ANOTHER BUT WE ALL STILL END UP VOTING ONE WAY OR THE OTHER FOR A CONSERVATIVE. WHAT'S GREAT IS, IF YOU LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF CONSERVATISM IN THIS COUNTRY, AND EVEN IN THIS PROVINCE, THE CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT HAS ALWAYS BEEN MOBILE AND SHIFTING AND CHANGING. IT'S ALWAYS VERY DYNAMIC. AND THERE'S ALWAYS SOME KIND OF SPLINTER GROUP OR SOME PEOPLE THAT ARE JUST DISAPPOINTED OR ARE DOWNRIGHT UPSET WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING AND THEY START THEIR OWN PARTY. THAT'S JUST KIND OF... TO ME, THAT'S A VIRTUE OF CONSERVATISM THAT'S GREAT, IS THAT IF YOU'RE NOT HAPPY WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING, FINE, YOU CAN GO OFF AND START YOUR OWN PARTY. NEVER MIND THE FACT YOU'RE GOING TO SPLIT VOTES AND CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR ELECTORAL... THE ELECTORAL PROCESS. I'M A CONSERVATIVE WHO WANTS TO WIN. I DON'T CARE ABOUT THIS NEW BLUE PARTY BECAUSE IT WILL NOT HELP US WIN. IT WON'T GET US ANY CLOSER TO GETTING ELECTED.

Steve says WELL, I'M DOWN TO MY LAST 30 SECONDS HERE. LET ME MAKE SURE I GET JASVEEN ON THIS TOO. JASVEEN, HOW DO YOU SEE THE PROSPECTS OF THE NEW BLUE PARTY?

Jasveen says TO BE HONEST, I AGREE WITH EVERYONE HERE. I THINK IT'S JUST A GIMMICK. I DON'T KNOW THE KARAHALIOS' WELL. I ECHO SENTIMENTS OF EVERYONE HERE AS WELL. AT THE END OF THE DAY, IF THAT'S THE ONE GREAT THING ABOUT CANADA, RIGHT? WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO A DEMOCRATIC PROCESS AND IF THEY WANT TO START A PARTY, GOOD FOR THEM. BUT I'M VERY WILLING TO STICK WITH THE PARTY THAT I'M WITH.

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin; Producer, Patricia Kozicka, @TrishKozicka."

Steve says GOTCHA. I WANT TO THANK ALL OF YOU FOR GATHERING VIRTUALLY FOR THIS DISCUSSION. I LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY WE CAN DO IT ALL IN PERSON. BUT IN THE MEANTIME, DONALD BLAIR IN THE TOP LEFT CORNER, JASVEEN RATTAN IN THE TOP RIGHT CORNER, AND BRIAN LILLEY IN THE BOTTOM LEFT CORNER AND MELISSA LANTSMAN IN THE BOTTOM RIGHT CORNER. WE'RE DELIGHTED ALL OF YOU COULD JOIN US ON TVO TONIGHT. THANKS SO MUCH.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Donald says THANK YOU.

Brian says THANK YOU STEVE.

Jasveen says THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Watch: Is Ontario's PC Party Too Moderate?