Alex Pierson: I don’t need a woman to lead the Ontario PC party; I want the best person for the job

I don’t play gender politics. And you shouldn’t buy into it. It may not be the popular opinion these days, but I don’t need a woman to lead the PC party or for cabinet to be equally split women-men. I want the best person for the job hired, and if that is a woman, even better. And because I don’t care about gender politics, I can confidently say, “You go girl,” to the newest candidates running for the PC leadership.

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Christine Elliott says she’s in. And Caroline Mulroney will announce next week. These are both very competent and accomplished women. Both bring much to the table. Both are people the base could and will get behind.

Elliott is a career politician with big name recognition. She offers comfort to many who are feeling rattled now and want someone reliable who they believe can go toe to toe with Kathleen Wynne. She can. But she has baggage and it will be thrown against her in the battle for top spot. Elliott, a former MPP for Whitby-Oshawa, lost the last leadership race to Patrick Brown. She will be cast as a “loser.” She isn’t.

Christine Elliott touts experience as reason to elect her Ontario PC Party leader

Mulroney is unique. She carries no political baggage, but that’s because she has no real political experience. She is a star. The daughter of a former PM. This does not define her. I can tell you that with certainty because I worked with her while during my time consulting for the campaign before coming back to broadcasting.

I had no idea what she’d be like. And while it was easy for me to make assumptions going in, I quickly realized I was wrong.

The woman I got to know was humble, cautious, kind and fiercely serious about the task of getting elected. There was never a time when she wasn’t taking notes. And she would practice until she got it exactly right.

She took part in every team-building exercise just like every other candidate and never gave off the air of being special or better than anyone else. This is what struck me about Caroline Mulroney. She is one of those “elites” as Doug Ford calls them, but unlike other politicians with a famous last name, she has real accomplishments that back her up.

Mulroney’s resume is impressive. No snowboarding or acting roles, instead, she is Harvard-educated — a lawyer. She ran an investment firm and does charity work for women’s shelters. She is a very hands-on mother to four kids who I found to be startlingly polite.

Caroline Mulroney launches campaign to become Ontario PC leader

The very best thing about Mulroney is she is not a politician, and that will appeal to many who are sick and tired of the establishment that has failed them time and time again but it will be what her opponents throw at her.

Leadership votes are ugly — mean, and not for the faint of heart. Mulroney, who struck me as being more like her mother Mila, than her dad Brian, will be tested. Her skin thickened. Her biggest challenge will be weathering that — not to retreat but to rise above the noise, I recall her saying.

In one conversation, she said, “I just don’t want to be mean,” to which I laughed and reminded her she is going into the blood sport of politics.

That one comment speaks volumes. It tells me she is a bright spot in a very ugly world. What she lacks in experience, she makes up for in character. A rarity, if ever in today’s politics.

If Caroline doesn’t win this time, she will be no loser. She will still win a seat. She will deservedly serve in cabinet if the party wins… and my prediction today is one day, she will run this country. And to that I say, ‘You go, girl!!!”

Alex Pierson is the host of ON Point with Alex Pierson on Global News Radio 640 Toronto, 900 CHML and 980 CFPL.

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