Genco better than PC party

22 Aug

I have come to like Tony Genco, the Progressive Conservative candidate in the Oct. 6 provincial election. I like his spunk, his tenacity, his ability to withstand the howling winds of change, and also the howling voices of detractors, while pressing on to do what it is he feels he needs to do.

No matter that he willingly stepped out into the storm that now assails him as he trudges purposefully across the Vaughan political landscape. At least he trudges with purpose. He has appointed himself well in recent interviews, has shown himself capable of the wider view and has exhibited a political intelligence for which he does not often get credit. And his will to win far surpasses that demonstrated by the exclusive, reclusive and elusive local political entity to which he has hitched his wagon.

In fact, were it not for the outrageously media-unsavvy Conservative association around him, I might be inclined to suggest he is capable of stealing some of the spotlight from Liberal incumbent Greg Sorbara in the campaign that has just now begun to unfold.

A full cast of colourful characters have burst out of the gate, full of bravado all, as they prepare to mount a challenge to the giant that is Sorbara. All have fought on other fields — Genco ran federally as a Liberal, the NDP’s Paul Donofrio and the Reform Party of Ontario’s David Natale have run municipally — and are now ready for their first taste of victory. All will draw some media attention simply because they are interesting characters, but it will take more than in-passing notation to outshine Sorbara The Quotable.

As though finding a way to outmaneuver Sorbara The Deliverer, Sorbara The Accomplished and Sorbara The Entrenched were any small feat.

Genco has a profile, but there’s nothing coming his way in the line of support beyond what he manufactures himself. Successful political parties have systems in place, layers deep, to ensure that their messaging is both well crafted and well distributed. The Liberal party wrote the book on that; the Conservatives apparently failed to read it.

Vaughan Today, for some odd reason, doesn’t seem to stay on local Conservative contact lists very long. Which probably explains why it takes a certain resolute impoliteness on our part to gain entry to most of their important events.

We found ourselves shut out of the Ontario PC party GTA fundraiser in Vaughan last week too. We had to resort to other means to listen in as premier-hopeful Tim Hudak trumpeted the party’s [changebook] platform in his 20-minute speech. I still marvel at how it never occurred to him to use the occasion and locale to put in a word for Vaughan candidate Genco.

This disconnect with local organizers was reminiscent of the Julian Fantino federal campaign in May, where Vaughan Today had to practically beat down the door to be included in Conservative events such as a Prime Minister Stephen Harper visit (which we almost always found out about from other sources). We elected not to beat down the door for the Hudak event, lest we exhibit bad form and perhaps barge in right in the middle of … oh … Richmond Hill candidate Vic Gupta’s address. (Guess the braintrust figured that, this being the Weston Road and Highway 7 area, they should “localize” things — with York Region representation.)

Ideology aside, what Genco lost when he left the Liberal party is access to a credible political vehicle to deliver him and his message to the people. The loss makes him the contemporary of Donofrio and Natale — not of Sorbara — in this race. Only Sorbara has the luxury of strong party presence to draw on. Genco might be better off following his own maverick spirit than conforming to the “strategy” of a group that behaves as though it does not recognize the need to sell its message.

— Dan Hoddinott


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