It's no wonder Tom Long creeps out western Reformers and traditional Tories, not to mention the rest of us.
He was drawn across the border to Ronald Reagan and has worked for Brian Mulroney and Conrad Black. It's not exactly a curriculum vitae that shouts "I'm a man of the people." Here's the short take on Long.
THE EAGER APPRENTICE
Let's just say Tom Long didn't have a wild youth.
Over 20 years ago, while most high-school kids were rebelling against the system, True Blue Tom was shoring it up.
He transformed the dormant Sarnia PC youth association into a strong right-wing political force. (Now there's a storyline you won't see on That 70s Show.)
He cut his political teeth helping Sarnia Tory Andy Brandt get elected to Queen's Park. He crossed the border to work for the 1976 Ronald Reagan Republican leadership bid. And later, in his one and only stab at public office, Long ran unsuccessfully for the local federal Tory nomination.
GO RIGHT OR GO HOME
Long railed against the pinko Toryism of Ontario premier Bill Davis, who held power on a moderate platform of responsible government and a strong social safety net.
"I remember to this day Tom, when he was in his very early 20s, standing up at a PC policy convention and telling Davis he was wrong on a certain issue," says Vic Dudek, Long's former high-school history teacher. "I remember Davis would never get into an argument with Tom. He would always sort of say, 'Well, it's always nice to hear from young Mr. Long. He certainly represents the conscience of the party.'
"I suppose it was a little bit of a dismissal. And I remember that would fry Tom's butt, because Tom always had enough confidence to feel that no matter who he took on in debate, he could win."
Tom Long is no Bill Davis.
WORKING FOR THE MAN I
Right or wrong, you're often judged by the company you keep.
In 1984, Long went to Ottawa with his new friend Peter White, a business associate of Conrad Black's (strike one), to work in Brian Mulroney's PMO (strike two). Reportedly frustrated that his ideas were getting short shrift, he left, along with White, midway through Mulroney's first term.
WORKING FOR THE MAN II
After Ottawa, Long followed White to Conrad Black's DomGroup, which sold off the troubled Dominion food-store chain, reportedly earning the press baron a tidy profit and putting numerous people out of work.
THE WOULD-BE CHIEF
Long has never been elected to public office.
Sure, in the dark post-Davis, pre-Harris days of the provincial Tories, he won the booby prize and assumed the party presidency. But that hardly counts.
Long reportedly had his sights set on the party leadership, resigning his president's post and setting up an exploratory campaign in 1989. However, the young 30-something backed away from the 1990 leadership contest, clearing the way for North Bay's own tax-cutting welfare basher, Mike Harris.
Long, of course, went on to chair Harris's successful 1995 and 1999 campaigns. Who could ask for anything more?