Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday March 10, 2015
There’s an alternate universe where Tim Hudak 2.0 worked.
A reality where the two-year long strategy to frame him as family man and anything but a meaner second coming of Mike Harris worked. A world where he didn’t pledge to cut 100,000 public servants in the spring election and open a door to Premier Kathleen Wynne returning her then-minority Liberals to majority status in June 2014.
But that’s not the reality the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario enjoys at the moment.
Instead, the party is embroiled in a once-sleepy leadership race. One that has flown under many Ontarians’ radar as party brass work to make good on a promise following the party’s fourth electoral trouncing since 2003, despite a slew of scandals and police investigations into the governing Grits.
Then, two leadership candidates and one MPP started saying things. Silly things.
The kind of things everyone disavowed when they so unceremoniously dumped Hudak, denying him even the dignity of running the party until his successor was chosen.
Back in the summer of 2014 — seven, maybe eight months ago — the PC caucus, down nine seats after the electoral trouncing, lined up to say Hudak “blindsided” them with the 100,000 jobs cut.
They queued for the cameras to say they learned yet another lesson about the politics of division, just as in 2011, when Hudak’s otherwise centrist campaign was derailed by bizarre social conservative comments about chain gangs and rural candidates’ anti-gay flyers.
The usual social conservative suspects are railing against the reforms, employing ever-so nuanced rhetoric about bestiality and pedophilia.
Enter leadership hopefuls Patrick Brown, a sitting MP from Barrie, and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MP Monte McNaughton, who both seized the mic at a protest against the curriculum to rally the social conservative base the Tories don’t need to rally. Playing to your base, especially a small one not concentrated in seat-rich areas around city centres, only takes you so far. How many times do the Tories need to try to quit this self-destructive behaviour?
Leadership contender Christine Elliott thought better of it: She first indicated she would attend the rally, then suddenly had pressing “legislative business,” when there were no committees or big votes scheduled.
The party has worked hard under interim-leader Jim Wilson to recast itself as a friendlier kind of conservative, the type who isn’t upset about a lesbian grandma running the province, but the fact is she might be running it into the ground. Education critic Garfield Dunlop drafted a thoughtful response to sex ed, saying it’s long overdue, but pledging to listen to parents concerns. It’s exactly the kind of middle-of-the-road rebuilding the party needs if they don’t want Wynne to become the next Bill Davis. (Source: National Post)