There has always been a mean streak in Guelph politics, best represented by the opera singer Edward Johnson and his son-in-law, Premier George Drew. Johnson was a self-professed admirer of Mussolini, and applauded the fascist's assassination of the head of the Italian Socialist Party, while George Drew was a reactionary conservative who the Canadian people never trusted with the Prime Ministership although Ontario's Orangemen kept in him power in Toronto for a few years. Mike Harris is part of that same Meighen Streak, which descends from some-time Prime Minister Arthur Meighen, an anti-labour politician who banned the reading of Plato and Darwin in the same stroke of the pen as he banned Karl Marx and Lenin.
MacKenzie King had been Meighen's nemesis throughout his career, dating back to their student days at the University of Toronto in the late 1890's. But whereas King had a instinct for reform and how far and how fast the Canadian people were willing to go on almost any issue, Meighen's instincts were pure reactionary and had as much to do with common sense as did Mike Harris' war on the poor. Meighen's respect for law and order is a case in point: he had the leaders of the Winnipeg General Strike arrested despite the fact that there weren't breaking any laws. He told his Minister of Labour to arrest them first and the government would pass a law afterwards to justify their actions, which they then did. Needless to say, Meighen was defeated in the next general election.
Guelph reactionaries have received the support of a majority of voters only once in a blue moon but they should never be under estimated: well-financed and well-placed within the community, the upstart Guelph Civic League nonetheless proved in the last municipal election that they could be beaten in a head-on confrontation. Since the several-times federal candidate for the conservatives, *the Alliance/Reform-a-tory* Brent Barr is being challenged by populist municipal politician and red tory, Gloria Kovach, it will be interesting to see if a reactionary conservative or a progressive conservative ends up as the conservative candidate.
** According to a 'comment' posted on Mar 18 Brent Barr was not from the Reform/Alliance side of the party. That's what I get for utterly ignoring everything about the local conservative party as a waste of time. See the comment for the post below.