To call the last 24 hours in Ontario politics a bombshell is to compare a meteor shower to the space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs.
The mushroom cloud of destruction left by Patrick Brown’s tardy resignation in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations is still lifting high in the sky and there is simply no way yet to know where all the mangled debris will land, or if there is possibly a Progressive Conservative phoenix somehow buried under all that carnage.
In the immediate aftermath of the allegations, one thing is clear: Nothing is the same in Ontario.
Premier Kathleen Wynne held an extraordinary news conference standing in front of her desk in her second-floor Queen’s Park office. She said she was speaking “as a mother, as a daughter.”
“People are shaken and are wondering what comes next,” Wynne said.
Wynne refused to talk about potential changes to the election cycle, saying “the political fallout will be what it will be.”
What it will be is a completely new political landscape where all bets are off.
A newly minted PC leader, even one chosen by a cabal of MPPs instead of a full leadership vote, will have a significant chance to make their case to lead Ontario in the political eternity from now until June 7, which is when voters go to the polls.
The big knock against Patrick Brown before Wednesday night was no one knew exactly what he stood for. He was an enigma looking for votes first from social conservatives, then red Tories, and then traditional Liberal voters.
A new PC leader won’t carry that baggage into the next election. Instead, they are likely to find both pundits and the public a little more forgiving of someone taking on the job under such circumstances.
In the past year, Donald Trump has changed our perception of time, churning from one headshaking headline to the next, in dizzying speed. It’s a reality that exists here in Ontario too, where the shock of the allegations and resignation of Patrick Brown will become sepia-toned within days as new allegations and new outrage will take our attention elsewhere.
Into that furiously spinning news cycle will be a new leader with a chance to reverse the Progressive Conservative curse of always snatching defeat from the jaws of victory — and that will be a bombshell.
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