‘We’re going to be ready in every God damn riding’: Ontario Conservatives unveil new logo, change in tactics

OTTAWA — Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives say they’re going to change their tactics for the 2018 election and campaign hard in every riding instead of focusing only on ridings they feel they can win.

The once-mighty Tories abandoned wide swaths of the province and alienated would-be Conservative voters simply by targeting only “winnable” ridings, campaign organizer told delegates at their first convention under new leader .

“Patrick Brown does not believe in target seats,” he said. “Under our plan there is no Liberal safe seat in Ontario. We have 122 target seats in 2018.”

Soliman told the PC delegates that the party that last held power in 2003 had lost its way and needed to take a new approach to winning the next election.

We’re going to be ready in every God damn riding in this province.

“Ethnic and faith-based communities … didn’t even know if we were interested in their votes,” said Soliman. “Party members were disillusioned by fake policy processes, and most disturbingly, by a feeling that we were not winners.”

More than 1,600 delegates at a PC convention in Ottawa are also being told about the party’s new consultation of members to develop their platform for the 2018 Ontario election.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank GunnTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank GunnPC leader Patrick Brown

Brown promised the delegates their views would count in the platform development, and said he was open to all ideas that would make Ontario stronger.

The Tories also announced they would open nominations for the next election in January 2017, about 18 months ahead of voting day.

“We’re going to be ready in every God damn riding in this province,” said Soliman.

The Progressive Conservatives said they have grown to just under 80,000 members, and Brown wants to raise that to at least 100,000 members before the election.

Brown’s keynote address to one of the largest PC conventions in Ontario history is scheduled for Saturday night.

Earlier Saturday, the Conservatives unveiled a new party logo as part of their rebranding exercise, which merges a red P and a blue C with a green leaf joining the two letters.

The delegates also heard a rambling, 35-minute motivational speech by former Toronto Argonauts player and coach Mike “Pinball” Clemons, who party officials said declined his speaking fee as an endorsement of Brown. Clemons left the Ottawa convention centre before reporters could ask if he plans to run for the Tories in the 2018 election.

About Keith Leslie, The Canadian Press