August 13, 2012 Toronto – On Sunday (August 12, 2012), Ontario Progressive Conservative Finance Critic Peter Shurman lashed out at Freedom Party leader Paul McKeever on FaceBook.com over comments made by McKeever while a guest of Jim Richards’ Showgram on Toronto news-talk radio station CFRB 1010 AM (August 9, 2012 – click here to hear the audio). Now, under fire even in the conservative media for his party’s waffling on the issue of wine and beer in corner stores, Shurman expressed anger with McKeever, whose party is on the record campaigning unequivocally for allowing wine and beer to be sold in corner stores.
An August 8th media release by the Progressive Conservatives castigated Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty for refusing to consider allowing wine and beer to be sold in convenience stores. On the morning of August 9th, Shurman appeared on CFRB’s Jerry Agar show and accused McGuinty of being “Premier Dad”, on the issue. In response, Agar asked Shurman: “Would you go on the record today saying that if it were a PC government, you would actually do this? Not talk about it. Do it?” Shurman replied “Well, I will go on the record today and say that we will study what the parameters are that…”. Agar, immediately catching the dodge, expressed dissatisfaction with the non-committal answer. Shurman’s response: “You want me to fire from the hip and tell you absolutely yes, and that’s not responsible.”
Later that day, Richards called Shurman’s response on Agar’s show “more insulting” than Dalton McGuinty’s refusal to trust adults with alcohol purchases at convenience stores. He invited FP leader Paul McKeever to comment on Shurman’s response. McKeever explained that Shurman’s approach was classic PC bait and switch: they want to win over voters who want wine and beer in convenience stores by making them think that the PCs are pushing for it when, in fact, they are not. Today, in response to a Facebook posting of a recording of Richards’ interview with McKeever, Shurman turned the guns on Freedom Party and its leader, and McKeever replied:
Shurman: “Thing is these guys can’t possibly ever get elected…so they have no responsibility for promising anything they like. Our responsibility is to float ideas that resonate with the public so we can get input and implement when we form government. Interesting though so thanks to you, Erin [Goodwin].”
McKeever: “That’s a cop-out Peter. Your argument is: “Because we possibly can get elected, we have a responsibility not to make promises, because, if we made promises, we’d have to keep them.” And, as you demonstrated on Jerry Agar’s show this week, you are willing to mislead the public – and, given media reports, the media – into thinking you favour ending the ban, but when you are forced to say yes or no, you say no, you won’t make that promise. It didn’t work for Bill Clinton re: Lewinsky, and it won’t work for you and the PCs on policy.
“There’s no virtue in not breaking promises that you’ve never actually made. Your deliberate ambiguity and equivocation on issues – issues that YOU raise, only to mislead – is what is driving the voters away from the voting booths…to the point where, now, fewer than 50% bother to vote. Just try to “get elected” by those folks, Peter. When you’re ready to make a promise that you will do something, say so. But, for the sake of democracy, please stop trying to build bridges to fiscal conservatives by pretending to take pro-free market positions. You hurt the cause and, clearly, you don’t help your party out in the process (not that I’m complaining about the latter).”
Shurman: You talk a lot but you don’t say much, Paul…that’s a load of crap. I told Agar my hand would be up on a caucus vote and that my expectation was we’d follow through. I don’t equivocate…I tell it like it is, always have. If I put it out there, it’s because we intend to proceed. The system you’ve never seen from the inside demands input…craft beer guys don’t want this; wine makers do; 60+% of the public also does. It’s why we’re talking about it. You just shoot from the lip. Put your name on a sign, get elected, then tell me I’m BS’ing…I’m accused of a lot but never making promises I can’t keep.
McKeever: “I didn’t accuse you of making promises. I accused you of refusing to make them…while leading people to believe the PCs are promising something.
“As for input: principled people apply principles when deciding what to do/promise. They don’t govern by percentages. They do what is right, even if craft beer people don’t want it.”
McKeever says that the exchange demonstrates exactly why the Progressive Conservatives have been, and will be, unable to take advantage of widespread dissatisfaction with the governing Liberals.
“You can like Dalton McGuinty’s stand, or dislike it, but at least he has a clear stand on the issue of wine and beer in corner stores”, says McKeever. “Freedom Party takes a principled stand that is opposite the McGuinty Liberal’s stand on wine and beer. In contrast, the Progressive Conservatives expect to be elected without taking a stand. They want to get elected by just tearing down the Liberals. That just doesn’t cut it with the voter anymore.
“In truth, Shurman is asserting that one should never make promises – that making promises is ‘irresponsible’ – whether or not one can expect to be elected. Frankly, I cannot think of anything less responsible, politically, than refusing to make a promise about what ones party will do if it forms a government. And I think the voter sees that slippery, non-commital approach to electioneering as a complete turn-off. Why vote against McGuinty if it means voting for a question mark?
“Moreover, Shurman’s statement that his party can be elected and another cannot shows a complete contempt for the judgment of the voter. No MPP, and no party, should ever take a voter’s vote for granted. Voters do not belong to anyone. These days, voters want to know what is being promised: as voter turnout proves, the days of blindly voting PC or Liberal are over. Any voter might take his or her vote and go elsewhere, or stop voting altogether. Shurman and the Progressive Conservatives appear not to realize that.
“It seems clear to me that Shurman is angered that – while his party waffles – Freedom Party is taking a clear stand that is different from – and in principled opposition to – that of the Liberals. The PCs would prefer that Freedom Party just keep quiet and make it easier for the PCs to pretend that they would change the status quo.
“At the end of the day, Shurman’s exchange with me demonstrates one key thing: a win by the PCs over the Liberals is elusive precisely because the PCs’ policies are elusive. You cannot combat McGuinty’s “no” with a promise to “consider” a yes. The irony is that, in Ontario, it is the PCs that are proving to be the party that would govern not by principle, but by polls.”
A screen capture of Shurman’s August 12, 2012 exchange with McKeever can be seen here.
Freedom Party’s candidates in the Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan ridings have been nominated. The nominations will be announced shortly.
For further details, contact:
Paul McKeever, Leader – Freedom Party of Ontario
Land-line (9:30 AM to 5:00 PM): 905-721-9772
Freedom Party’s 2011 election plank on wine and beer in corner stores – and the commercial it ran on the issue during the election of 2011 – can be seen here.
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