Obvious to everyone but Tim Hudak that Tim Hudak should go
Yesterday Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that five required by-elections would be held on August 1 in the province.
All five are former Liberal seats, and all five are former McGuinty-era cabinet ministers (including the seat of the former Premier).
The balance in the minority legislature won’t change even if Wynne’s Liberals win all five again.
Opposition leader Tim Hudak, of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, was quick to get the word out that his party expected not to take any of them.
That, more than anything else, shows just how much of a liability Tim Hudak is for his party.
Not only are the PCs currently ahead of the Liberals in provincial opinion polls, but at least two of the five seats being contested ought to be fights the PCs could win.
It’s true that the PCs aren’t likely in contention in Windsor-Tecumseh — that one, the third-place NDP have just as good a shot as the Liberals at winning, but the PCs were never likely to take a seat in Windsor. Etobicoke-Lakeshore, one of the ridings “saved” with the mid-campaign abandonment of the building of a gas-fired power plant (one of McGuinty’s decisions that has ended up costing the taxpayers upwards of over half a billion dollars), also is a Liberal-NDP fight.
But the other three — London West, Scarborough-Guildwood, and Ottawa South — ought to be able to be put in contention. Why write them off before you start?
It’s not like the PCs are unprepared. They completed all 107 nominations required for the province as winter turned into early spring, thinking that the government would fall over its budget. Instead, once again, Tim Hudak dealt himself out of budget negotiations at the beginning, leaving the field free for Wynne and NDP leader Andrea Horwath to make a deal and get the budget passed.
Conservatives around the province this morning are wondering why, for instance, the party couldn’t win London West. They have all the surrounding seats. They held this one during the Mike Harris and Ernie Eves governments, the last time the PCs had power. Not to mention that Wynne has approved the candidacy of the former head of the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers’ Federation to be the Liberal standard-bearer, right after having spent another $114 million of borrowed money buying off the teachers (and still claiming that they’re holding to zero-zero-zero for increases and cutbacks on benefits) — and with her candidate having successfully led the charge to elect a NDP MPP in last year’s Kitchener by-election.
If the PCs can’t take a seat like London West, they’ll never get enough to form a government (other than a weak, ally-less minority) — and in Ontario there’s a history of the Liberals and NDP supporting each other rather than one of the two supporting the PCs in making a conservative minority work.
Scarborough-Guildwood ought also to be within their grasp. It’s one of Canada’s most diverse ridings, precisely the sort of riding the federal Conservatives have worked hard to woo. Running with, for instance, either City Councillor Paul Ainslie or Ron Moesner, who represent the riding municipally and who would be congenial to the goals of the PCs, would have made sense (to fend off the NDP in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Wynne had grabbed Councillor Peter Milczyn, and in Scarborough-Guildwood, she’s got CivicAction CEO Mitzie Hunter to run for the Liberals). Instead, Hudak’s forgoing the name recognition and staying with his pre-selected candidate.
Sorry, but a no-name-recognition police officer and real estate agent are inappropriate for these two Toronto ridings, especially when one of them ought to have been winnable with some work.
Even Ottawa South, McGuinty’s old fiefdom, ought to be in play for the PCs. They’re strong all over Eastern Ontario, and Ottawa South isn’t as Liberal red as it’s looked over the years. The Liberals are running one of McGuinty’s old constituency office workers, meaning a high profile PC candidate could make inroads. Instead, they’re sticking with the (again, no-community-name-recognition) salesman they pre-selected earlier this year.
Tim Hudak, in turn, is no asset to his party. He consistently polls as the worst party leader in the province, and runs far behind his party in public opinion. A year’s worth of running around issuing policy white papers has done nothing to move the general view that he’s the wrong man, leading to Wynne’s favourable reception once McGuinty was forced to hang up his Premiership.
Tim Hudak has also been unable to motivate Ontarians against the Liberals, despite being handed $10 billion plus deficits, a debt rating downgrade possibility, the financial scandal at ORNGE (the air ambulance service), the power plant closure issue, etc.
His views on the Greater Toronto/Hamilton area’s biggest issue — gridlock — are straight from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s playbook: rip the heart out of the existing transit commissions, promise subways (but no money for them), and effectively do nothing. That won’t help either of the Toronto-area races.
With the NDP once again pushed down into third place, there’s no excuse any longer.
But all Tim Hudak can see is that, come September, his party gathers in London in convention, and he doesn’t want it to turn ugly. They already confirmed him as leader until the next general election, but a floor fight to push him out remains a possibility.
So he’s setting his bar very low, indeed, thus confirming what party workers and the general populace alike think: he’s the wrong man for the job.
Frankly, that the PCs would let his negativity stand is a clear sign that, despite all the dirt done to Ontario by the Liberals (from doubling the province’s debt onwards) their major opponent isn’t yet ready to get serious and challenge them for power.
It’s obvious to everyone but Tim Hudak that Tim Hudak should go.
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