Tuesday March 10, 2015

Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday March 10, 2015

ThereÕs 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 didnÕt 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 thatÕs 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 OntariansÕ radar as party brass work to make good on a promise following the partyÕs 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 Ñ seven, maybe eight months ago Ñ the PC caucus, down nine seats after the electoral trouncing, lined up to say Hudak ÒblindsidedÓ 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 HudakÕs otherwise centrist campaign was derailed by bizarre social conservative comments about chain gangs and rural candidatesÕ 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 donÕt need to rally. Playing to your base, especially a sma