Common Sense Revolution

The platform used by Mike Harris1 Progressive Conservatives in the 1995 Ontario election. Inspired in equal parts by the success of the Chrétien Liberals’ “Red Book” in the 1993 federal election, and the US Republican Party’s “Contract with America” in the 1994 mid-term election, Common Sense Revolution was a canny effort to brand the then third-place Progressive Conservatives for a breakaway in 1995.

While inspired by the “Red Book”, the Common Sense Revolution was a decidedly right wing and populist document, promising broad tax cuts (30 percent) and less government. Not only a successful campaign document, the Common Sense Revolution became a governing template for eight years – and two majority mandates – of Harris government. Like many breakthrough campaign programs, it is often imitated, but seldom equalled.

Led by Tim Hudak, the Progressive Conservative Part of Ontario’s “Million Jobs” promise2 in the 2014 Ontario election was a major flop derided as Common Sense Revolution 2.0, landing the Party with its worst election outcome in decades. Interestingly, and less obviously, the Common Sense Revolution also appeared to be an inspiration for Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath in that same election; their platform had the unwieldy title: “A Plan That Makes Sense.”3.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


  1. Ontario Elections: Who is Mike Harris?. CBC Digital Archives.
  2. Million Jobs Plan. Ontario PC Party.
  3. MPs battle over F-35 fighter jet costs. CBC Digital Archives.

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