Paging Tim Hudak, Ontario needs a strong “conservative” gov’t!

Tim Hudak, Partner Deb & Daughter Miller.

During the recent fall election, I had high hopes that Tim Hudak would be Ontario’s next Premier. I knew him personally when I worked for a Harris era MPP and knew he had what it took to make that happen. I also supported him on this blog when he ran for the leadership of the party. He is, or at least was, a conservative, as opposed to a conservative in name only. He was also visionary and articulate. In other words, he was a born leader.

So, what happened during the recent Ontario election? What happened is that the PCs did not win enough seats to form government because they didn’t stray from their lukewarm message, which was more progressive than conservative. What also happened is that Hudak and his PC team concentrated more on minor issues such as the immigrant tax credit instead of talking about how the McGuinty Government was spending beyond their means, just like Italy and Spain, and that the PCs could get the financial house in order, not in seven years but in four.

Yet, I swear that, during the election campaign, just the mention of the phrase “Mike Harris legacy” would send Hudak and his team spinning. Why? The 1995 to 2002 period was one of growth in jobs and investment. In fact, as I’ve written before, Ontario created 700,000 jobs in the first mandate, got 100,000 people off of social assistance and paid off the $12 billion deficit left behind by Bob Rae’s NDP. 

Which brings me to the present. Every day now we are learning how very desperate the fiscal situation is in Ontario. Yesterday, for example, economist Don Drummond (the front man for Premier McGuinty) reported how bad things are economically. Read here and here.  Yet, while that report was coming out we were hearing that the Liberals were reducing all post-secondary tuitions by 30% — which only proves that McGuinty and his Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan, just don’t get  it.

So, you’d think the PCs would come out swinging today wouldn’t you? Well, if they have, I haven’t heard about it.  It is as though they are on an extended vacation.

Which is why I am paging Tim Hudak to get out in public and start hammering home the message — that the PCs can fix what is wrong!  But, to do that, they have to get away from wishy washy progressive policies and speak clearly about what Ontario needs to prosper once again — a strong, stable, Conservative majority government (thereby emphasizing the C in PC).

Read also related posts: Joanne at BLY, Clown at Midnight, and neo at Halls.

EndNote: For those readers who are new to the BT aggregator, I have been blogging for six years and took a bit of a break between the federal election on May 2nd (at which time I asked Stephen Taylor to remove CruxoftheMatter from the list) and the Ontario election in October.  However, as of today, I am back on the aggregator. I am also now a member of Blue Canada as well. My thanks to Craig and Stephen for making the process happen so quickly. Stop by and say hello!

35 thoughts on “Paging Tim Hudak, Ontario needs a strong “conservative” gov’t!

  1. Good luck with that…
    Hudak needs to be replaced. He had his chance and should have been able to bury McGuinty in the last election, but as you said, ran a wishy-washy campaign, afraid to voice a conservative platform to voters. We’ve sat through John Tory and now Tim Hudak. Time for the Ontario Conservatives to give us a real leader with a message and a voice, and the sooner the better!

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  2. Hudak was in a no win situation. First, the Globe and the Star refused to fully explain just how bad Ontario’s economy was and is, they would not investigate the false job creation numbers linked to the Wind and Solar sector, and, there was little to no reporting done on the manufacturing job losses and how Mr McGuinty’s numbers just never added up. Second, the Unions knew full well that cuts would be made after the election but prefered McGuinty to Hudak, McGuinty being more inclined to tax tax tax rather then look at ways withing the PS to reduce the deficit. No one was winning but McGuinty…the Globe and the Star and the Unions made sure of that. My problem with Hudak is, if your going to go down then go down fighting for Conservative values, He should have yelled and screamed unitl the Globe and the Star couldnt avoid reporting the truth any longer..but he didnt. He deserves one more chance.

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  3. Sandy, you’ve identified Drummond correctly, he’s a “front man” for McGuinty. McGuinty will continue to let the borrowed money flow to his pet interests including green energy, Drummond will end up an unnecessary expense.

    I think the PC machine, including Hudak misread the electorate big time. They lost by being timid conservatives, being “progressive” just wasn’t going to cut it against the dug in McGuinty machine so the people foolishly went with the “devil they knew” or more foolishly didn’t vote. We are all paying and will pay dearly .

    There’s something very wrong when we have to beg our opposition to get out there and do their job, call the government to account and if need be get together and send him packing. As it stands, another term of McGuinty economics will be decades clearing up, the man will not listen to reason,he’s acing like a dictator with a pious demeanor.

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  4. HUDAK’S PROBLEM: HE’S A PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE

    We are all aware of the damage Comrade McGuinty has done to the economy and Hudak’s election platform exemplified that he is a simply another big spending, big government progressive liberal. Mr. Hudak’s failure to publicize precisely how he would have eradicated the $16 billion deficit within two years demonstrates that his “No Sense Revolution” will mean higher taxes for our children, and ensure that their standard of living will be lower than ours. The progressive Mr. Hudak failed to realize that adding debt now is not our debt, but our children’s debt that will mean a lower standard of living during their lifetime.

    A genuine small-c fiscal conservative would recognize that the best mode of stimulus is a resilient balance sheet. Abolishing the deficit expediently in the next two years would permit the economy to roar ahead, appeal to foreign capital, and create jobs as it did in the late 1990s. However, the progressive Mr. Hudak’s election platform failed to produce a credible plan to control spending and to eliminate the deficit in his first term of office. The platform should have said that he would:

    Lower corporate and personal tax rates;

    Implement a 25% expenditure cut;

    Eradicate the nationalization of the child care industry;

    Sell the auto companies stock;

    Lay-off tens of thousands of useless civil servants;

    Freeze salaries/benefits, including teachers until they equal private sector wages/benefits;

    Sell crown corporations including the Lottery and Gaming Corp, TVO, Hydro 1, and the LCBO?

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  5. billg — I would agree Hudak needs another chance (Harris had two as did McGuinty) if he stops being so timid. If not, it’s John Tory all over again. Yet, who would replace him? Christine Elliott? She’s just as progressive. Randy Hillier? No, because he scares those in the middle that are needed for a majority. Frank Klees? Not on your life given his recent behaviour. Yet, there are new faces in the caucus. So, I definitely think the party needs to vote on Hudak’s leadership.

    That said, there were definitely many things against Hudak this latest time around — but I was a communications chair in 1995 and I have to tell you Harris sure had the media against him then. He just ignored them and went full speed ahead. It was a five week campaign then too and my boss, who was elected in that election, told me things changed at the door in the third week. So, unions be darned, it could happen again. The Party has to wake up and stop fearing the Harris legacy.

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  6. Billg, I agree, Hudak deserves another chance. It would make no sense to change leadership after he has had the experience of running and learning from mistakes. Besides, he will have the experience of running behind him giving him a leg up on the Liberals who will be choosing a new leader.

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  7. Machiavelli — I hear you but I disagree that Hudak is a progressive. I believe the party failed him, however, with a progressive platform. Hudak was very much a part of the original common sense revolution and agreed with it. While I haven’t been at any party conventions for a very long time, I believe that is where the problem is. The Liberals and the public sector unions want to scare Ontario voters with the same scary hidden agenda message they aim at the CPC. Nevertheless, the PCs should have come out swinging!

    Now, regarding your list of what they should do. I don’t agree with such a radical approach. It was the thousands of protests and strikes during the Harris years that still scare the voting public — at least not without a clear understanding of what needs to be done.

    Conservatives also have to be compassionate, not progressive but compassionate. I have an adult disabled son with autism. We have to be careful not to forget the compassion part as well as the fiscal part. Harris got rid of the deficit in four years and it was agonizing but the province was booming by the end of the first mandate. Having sat through hundreds of meetings with my boss about the cuts from 1995 – 1998, I know it is simply not possible to pay off 16 billion dollars in two years.

    However, great ideas and a great discussion.

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  8. O/T Sandy but remember the very animated discussion on one of your previous blogs about the McGuinty push for smaller class size was, to put it lightly, unsustainable? It’s taken them THIS long to figure out what you and other education bloggers pegged so very long ago. It’s all coming back to bite McGuinty in the butt…..I certainly hope Hudak and his party remember that their support base and education common sensers drive home how costly a program Dalton’s smaller class size plan was.

    Looks like Don Drummond agrees:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/adam-radwanski/why-drummonds-doomsday-report-is-not-all-bad-for-the-premier/article2293265/

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  9. Interesting Catherine — It’s like the McGuinty government decision makers live in their own Wonderland. Magical thinking.

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  10. Catherine — Here is a link to the cost of the ELP, money that apparently was not budgeted for. It’s not about class size but it is related. Where on earth are the Liberals going to get $3 billion dollars?

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  11. Happy New Year Sandy

    Hudak didn’t have a sustainable message during the campaign, especially not one that would encourage more people to vote PC, which was what he needed to win. He kept saying the same thing over and over and over again, regardless of the topic. It was not an effective way to introduce yourself to the voters and show your leadership qualities. His focus on the immigrant tax credit also did more damage to his campaign than the overall cost of the tax credit. I hope Stephen up in Ottawa had a talk with Hudak about the possible damage he did after Stephen worked so hard in May to embrace the vote of New Canadians.

    It was also bad timing that the message Hudak was trying to promote was being undermined in Toronto with Rob Ford saying that he needed to cut services after winning his election using a similar message to Hudak and the PC Party. There goes the important urban vote, especially around the GTA.

    The PC Party has too much to lose if they dump Hudak before the next election. There is no credible alternative to him and they would lose the advantage of going into the next election with a leader who has led a campaign (assuming the Liberals have a new leader in 4 years). I would however dump the campaign advisors and policy creators behind the 2011 campaign platform. The reality is that the PC Party hasn’t run an effective campaign since Harris.

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  12. Matt says: I would however dump the campaign advisors and policy creators behind the 2011 campaign platform.

    Totally agree. And get bloggers engaged! Honestly I never saw such a poorly run campaign. I was both on the ground and at the keyboard. The lack of feedback was discouraging.

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  13. I remember hearing from PC members who complained about the lack of organization and communication before and during the convention that elected Hudak as leader. It should have been a wake up call instead of a preview of things to come a few years later.

    It seemed like some people thought an election win was inevitable and decided not to plan a proper campaign.

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  14. Happy New Year to you too Matt. Nice to hear from you again.

    I agree with both you and Joanne that the “in charge” PC headquarters backroom boys/girls didn’t seem to understand what they were up against. Truth is, the handful of people who ran both of Harris’ campaigns were brilliant but are all now retired or doing something else. Most burned out before Eves took over and it has never been the same since. Yet, as this link shows, Leslie Noble, Paul Rhodes and Tom Long were apparently involved in the Hudak campaign. I worked as a communications chair in both 1995 and 1999 so I know they could only have been marginally involved or the campaign would have been far more aggressive.

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  15. On the point Matt about Ford and cuts, I don’t think they made any difference. Remember, in 1995, deficit reduction and cuts were front and centre when the voters in many areas of the old Metropolitan City of Toronto and the GTA by gaving him a strong majority mandate. So, the messaging has to be right for people to realize debt reduction is necessary. Both the PC Party itself and the liberal media let us down by not holding McGuinty to account — as they are magically doing now when the Liberals are relatively safe.

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  16. I have to disagree with you.

    Ford campaigned on a message of reducing taxes while maintaining the same levels of service. He thought he could find millions in wasted spending which did not happen. The election coverage in the GTA media then disappeared as talked moved to the list of cuts that would be necessary to balance the books and reduce the debt in Toronto. There were many Liberals who were happy that Ford beat Smitherman as it would help them provincially a year later. Hudak then tried to campaign in the GTA using the same message.

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  17. Well Matt — It’s all water under the bridge now as both levels of government are going to have to balance their books. If, however, McGuinty doesn’t get it done, if the PCs have a strong message, then they will win next time, whenever that is. I doubt we’ll make it to the four year mark given the minority situation, no matter how small. If there are union disruptions, however, all bets are off as the NDP would not likely get together with the PCs in a case like that. Although, no matter what political party is in power in the Western world today, they are going to have to learn to live within their means.

    But, back to Hudak. He has got to get out there with a stronger message. I have heard that many newly elected MPPs,for example, are not yet up to speed. My boss was elected on June 8th, 1995 and had me answering the phone on June 10th. Plus, he had both his constituency and legislative offices up and running two months later as well. It is now three months since the Ontario election. So, there is no excuse for such slowness — although I have read that some federal Quebec NDP still do not have constituency offices.

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  18. The Ontario PC party still sounds the way it did during heir losing election performance. In my opinion Tim is getting some very bad advice. Loss of Manufacturing jobs and the Green Energy Act are Mcguinties greatest weakness. They are also the two things that are the most responsible for keeping Ontario underperforming. I realize that constantly beating the drum about public sector unions plays well with part of his base, but it is a losing strategy for winning an election. The way Mcguinty has falsely inflated energy prices in Ontario is costing us ten times more than public sector wages. If Tim doesn’t have the stones to tackle this problem we are done for regardless of anything else he does. Perhaps he can’t because members of his own caucus are up to their elbows in this green scam. We find out after Klees announces his candidacy for speaker that he has an application for a wind farm waiting for approval. If he had won and gave Mcguinty his defacto majority, he would have ensured that the subsidies stayed around long enough for him to get his piece of the subsidy pie. Does anyone believe this was a coincidence? Don drummonds report more or less calls green jobs a scam and nary a word from Hudak.
    This issue is Mcguinties weakness, the question remains is Hudak leader enough to e polite it.

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  19. Pete — Great discussion. However, I will need a link proving what you alleged about Klees (for legal reasons) in order to leave your entire comment up. Otherwise I’m going to have to edit it. I’ll check back later. Thanks.

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  20. Pete — I did find this blog post about Frank Klees and his opportunism. Disgusting hypocrisy. I have no idea how I missed this point during the election campaign and after. For other conservatives here, it is no doubt a low point. IMO, Klees should have been thrown out of the PC caucus! I am sure Catherine will be ticked royally as she lives near so many of those wind farms that are blighting the landscape.

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  21. Happy New Year all!

    Great subject Sandy with solid comments. Need to keep this on the blog agenda as much is at stake.

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  22. Pete – I remember when the Klees issue hit the fan. Stunning to say the least. I agree with everything you wrote. Sandy, it was in the papers here and I thought then as I do now that despite outward appearances of Hudak leading a united caucus and party that’s just not the case.

    You’ll likely not agree with me but I had dealings with Hudak when Mike Harris was Premier – he worked with the PC Youth I think at that time. He was capable then and he could have been capable now but just as others have said instead of listening to his MPPs and people on the ground I fear he listened to the suits and the advisors who may have once been great for Harris but times have changed in Ontario.

    I had also heard that Hudak, whether he was advised to keep his MPPs on short leash or what, but they couldn’t move during the campaign. Our newly elected MPP seemed to be doing her best and won the riding but I will hazard an opinion here that she did that with the help of the local riding assn. and not PC HQ. As a matter of fact I remember when the previous candidate from the last election actually advised us at a riding assn. meeting that PC HQ was of little or no help to him….that riding that did their own thing did better and were less frustrated.

    I’m on the fence about Hudak staying on as leader to be honest. Nice guy or not if, as you say Sandy they don’t start getting more aggressive and effective in their opposition AND if Hudak can’t unify his caucus in check he’s got to go. How much time are we as a party willing to wait for him though?

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  23. Sorry Catherine, your comment was in the filter. It’s out now. All good points to ponder. My hope is that someone from PC HQ will read this and learn. Either that, or ignore us which won’t help in the long run. This is all very depressing I can tell you. McGuinty and his Liberals are destroying our once “have” province for ideology and we see no real alternative on the horizon.

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  24. “Need to keep this on the blog agenda.” I agree Mac but most voters don’t read blogs, although I will keep at it. Perhaps the radio guys and SNN could also expose it.

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  25. Heres a link regarding the Klees “Feed in Tarriff” tie. http://northgowerwindactiongroup.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/frank-klees-portrait-of-an-opportunist/.
    I believe in their zeal to appear “green” conservatives took the wrong position on green energy from the start. Now that we are finally seeing media coverage that exposes it for what it is, what to we get from Tim? Opting out of smart meters???? We are behind the rest of the country and will stay there as long as we pursue this course.

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  26. Pete at 4:33pm, that is funny. I put up the exact same link at 10:11am this morning. It’s a very good one. The comment under the link is interesting as well.

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  27. Hudak, or more important, his advisors, should recognize the reality that the party did little to attract new voters. Yes, the party did increase its number of MPPs, but that was due more to other factors than voters viewing the party as a workable solution to the Liberals. The increase in NDP support in many urban ridings and the work of anti-wind turbine groups in a number of key Liberal rural ridings were the cause of more Liberal defeats than the work of the PC Party itself. Without these other factors, we would be seeing another Liberal majority at Queen’s Park, even if it is less than past elections. It was very interesting that as the election went on, people viewed McGuinty as a better leader than Hudak.

    If you look back, the PC Party (with the exceptions of the Harris victories) have not had a really successful election since ’81.

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  28. You’re right Matt. I can tell you that the reason we went Blue in my region is because of local issues and had very little to do with the issues Hudak was advised were vote-getters.

    Individual riding associations did the heavy lifting where we succeeded.

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  29. To Matt & Catherine — Individual riding associations are always where the action is and has to be. Only some of the messaging is out of HQ. It was like that when I was Campaign Communications Chair is both 1995 and 1999. The difference was that the candidates had to attend “Candidate School” and memorize the Commonsense Revolution. Sing from the same hymn book as it were. However, there were fewer major issues that grabbed the public — Photo Radar and Reducing Welfare were the two big ones. People were fed up with the Radar and, because the NDP had raised welfare rates higher than working for minimum wage, people were fed up with the abuse.

    As Catherine said in another comment, it was a different time. But, there were some major issues this recent election — wind farms, no appeals via the Green Act, rising hydro rates. Like the feds, they should have picked five issues and hammered them non-stop.

    The PCs ran a “play it safe” campaign and they lost.

    Yes, there was the Ford and Harper factors. Regardless, I think they should have been braver and hammered home a “we’ll get the fiscal house in order” message. Even say they would cancel the ELP in those areas where it is not wanted or needed.

    Oh well, water under the bridge now.

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  30. There are only 2 honest mesages in politics.

    1) I will charge the minimum in taxes but be prepared for the bare minimum in services.Look to the USA for your model.

    2) I will give you excellent public services but be prepared to pay for them. I will shift some to the corporations and affluent but there are limits to this and YOU for sure will have to pay more. Look to Sweden for your model.

    The fact is, those are the honest conservative and social-democratic messages. Neither contemplate deficit and debt.

    The Liberal message has always been I can give you NDP services and PC taxes. The problem is that the shortfall is debt and deficit. A little is not a problem. A lot is a big problem and both cuts and “revenue enhancements” are needed to fix it.

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  31. “Individual riding associations did the heavy lifting where we succeeded.”

    Yes. Exactly.

    Now how did we, the PC Party of Ontario, become a group of people where we constantly look to the central campaign and the leader to solve everything for us? If the central campaign is going to drop the ball, why aren’t we there to pick it up? Because we’re afraid the central campaign is going to be mean to us?

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  32. Andrea Horwath begins a provincial tour to make sure “no imortant services are cut.” I don’t see Tim Hudak having a tour yet.

    The Liberals are now in a tough spot of their own making. The more they threaten the public sector and the PS unions the more those same unions tell McGuinty “Have you met my new friend Andrea? Forget the major donations of money and workers in your next election and don’t count on the Working Families Coalition to do your dirthy work. Next time you are on your own. We didn’t support the red party to get the policies of the blue party.

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  33. Doug — Sure, Hudak should take a province-wide tour. But Yikes! Your last sentence at 9:16am. Talk about self-serving thinking.

    Why don’t you and all the officials in the teachers’unions and Working Families Coalition, who bought McGuinty, take a vacation in Greece or Italy or even Ireland? There you find out what Ontario will look like if the Ontario Liberal government does not get its fiscal house in order. The NDP? We did that remember. Harris inherited a $12 billion deficit. So, add that amount to the already $16 billion, and you will get an idea what the NDP can do for Ontario. NOT! It’s not red or blue or orange my friend. It’s survival!

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