In Toryland, after the recent disappointing Ontario by-elections, in which the Tories only won one of a possible five seats, there was much beating of breasts and rending of garments.
And some militant Ontario Tories have been calling for Tim Hudak’s head.
According to a recent column in the Toronto Sun by Sue-Ann Levy, the Toronto SunQueen’s Park reporter:
“The constitution committee of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party will determine in the next week what to do with resolutions calling for leader Tim Hudak’s head on a platter at the party’s policy meeting next month.”
Apparently, some dissident Tories are circulating petitions calling for an amendment to the party’s constitution to be voted on in an upcoming September party convention. Such petitions in effect want to change the constitution to permit an immediate leadership review or vote on Hudak’s leadership. As opposed to a leadership review after the next general election, as prescribed by the current constitution.
To date the only Tory dissidents who have gone public with this request for an immediate leadership review is Frank Klees, Tory MPP from Aurora, traditional manure disturber, MPP Randy Hillier and Peter Coleman, President of the National Citizens Coalition.
Frank Klees is the most prominent and respected Tory MPP who has come out for a leadership review. Recall that Klees came in second to Hudak in the last leadership race and he has been front and centre on exposing and pursuing the investigation of the Ornge scandal in provincial hearings.
In a recent Globe and Mail article, Klees acknowledged there is no provision for a leadership review at the upcoming September London convention, but Klees thought it would be in Hudak’s interest to ask for a leadership review to once and for all determine and solidify Hudak’s support in the party. Klees stated:
“For Tim to put that vote out there voluntarily, without being seen to resist that, I think it shows confidence on the part of the leader, and I think that in itself would instill confidence on the part of the members in the leader. If you’re afraid of what the members are going to say, what does that say about a general election and the general public?”
To a lesser extent, I have also being following various Tory and conservative blogs. And there is also a movement afoot to promote and nominate Etobicoke councillor Doug Ford as a potential Tory provincial leader to replace Tim Hudak.
However, to date, there have been no YouTube videos in our very own Tahrir Square, the Yonge-Dundas Square, of any pro-Doug Ford supporters setting KFC Family buckets on fire in protest of Hudak’s leadership.
But we are still in early days.
The natives are very restless. And unlike former Egyptian President Morsi, Tim Hudak should not ignore this grassroots rebellion as another brush fire.
As I stated in my previous Huff Post article, these past by-elections once again pointed out that Tim Hudak does not resonate with the Ontario electorate.
The sole Tory victory of Doug Holyday is commonly viewed as a result of Holyday’s own excellent municipal reputation and the active and valuable support of Ford Nation, rather than Hudak’s leadership and Tory policies.
But as I also stated, Hudak in private is personable, charming, and funny. Basically a good guy, and as appealing as Andrea Horwath and much more appealing than the hard-nosed and brittle Kathleen Wynne.
Unfortunately, Hudak in public, still comes across as too robotic and lacking in empathy.
Once again I urge Hudak’s advisers to let Hudak be Hudak, warts and all. In these difficult times, where in order to repair Ontario’s desperate deficit-ridden finances, government expenditures (like programs and civil servants) will have to be cut, Hudak should try to be more, “I feel your pain” Clintonian, than “Slash and burn” Mike Harris.
Mike Harris and his advisers Tim Long, Leslie Noble, and Deb Hutton ( apparently all Hudak advisers) have had their day in the sun.
But these are different times in Ontario then when Mike Harris was last Premier.
Though Long, Noble and Hutton have been loyally by Hudak’s side throughout Hudak’s political career, Hudak has to expand his brain trust. Long and Noble are a bit long in the tooth. They are a throwback to the Harris era. I appreciate it would be difficult to fire Hutton, his partner, wife, and mother of his child. But for the sake of Hudak’s political career, Hutton has to step back.
Also Hudak has to seek counsel and rely more upon the advice of non WASPish, non rural, and non traditional, and non-right wing Conservatives. Advisers who are more urban and suburban politicos. Street smart people who are more in tune with the changing demographics of Ontario, especially in the highly multicultural areas of Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough, and the expanding 905 areas of Brampton and Mississauga.
As to the proposed leadership review. Though I feel the dissidents’ pain, this is ultimately a bad and divisive plan. A year ago, after last election, the anti-Hudak forces had their chance to unseat Hudak. They failed. Hudak secured over 75 per cent approval as leader.
The next provincial election is less than 12 months away. Such a divisive leadership battle would tear the party apart, not only for months, but for years. And it would marginalize the Ontario Tories in third place for many years to come.
Do the Ontario Tories really want to revisit the disastrous internecine struggles that the Martin/Chetien battles inflicted upon the Federal Liberals for years and years?
Have we learned nothing from those politically devastating and self-inflicting Liberal fights?
Which ultimately torpedoed the leaderships of Martin, Dion, Rae and Ignatieff.
I suspect calmer heads will prevail.
Frank Klees will return to exposing Ornge and quietly preparing for his next run for leadership after the Hudak era.
And there will no Arab Spring for Ontario Tory dissidents in the fall.