Why I’m endorsing Tim Hudak for ON PC Leader
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking, discussing, and reading about the various leadership candidates for the Ontario PC Leadership, and I’ve finally made my decision… as of this moment, unless something HUGE changes things, I will be supporting MPP Tim Hudak to become the next leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.
When this leadership campaign began, I didn’t want to make any decisions right out of the gate, though I was approached pretty quickly by several members of the Hudak camp, individuals who I have a great deal of respect for. I wanted to take my time, wanted to give all the candidates a chance to get their messages out, and to get a good read of the candidates and their campaigns before I made my choice.
I had the chance to talk to Randy Hillier personally, for which I have to give him a lot of credit… how often does a candidate reach out to someone who’s been such a vocal opponent? It was HIGHLY unlikely that I was ever going to support him, but he made the effort anyway. Good show Randy. Unfortunately, I think selecting him as our leader would be highly damaging to our electoral prospects in both the near and distant futures, and as such, I am encouraging everyone I know not to support his bid. It is my opinion that Randy would be too far of a pendulum swing to the right for us to be a viable alternative government for the general public… no matter how appealing to the inner-conservative some of his policies might be.
Frank Klees, unfortunately, was never a serious contender in my opinion. His campaign appeared to be more of an afterthought than anything, and appeared rather disorganized from the get-go. I’ve since gotten an e-mail from a local organizer whom I highly respect, and was given some good food for thought to consider voting for him, but as a “pragmatic” So-Con, I do not feel that Frank is capable of winning a General Election… which makes his candidacy a non-starter for me.
Then we come down to what I must say has been the most impressive campaign thus far, the Elliott campaign. And note that I say “campaign” as opposed to “candidate”. I think the team that Christine has surrounded herself with is phenomenal, and they’ve run perhaps the best campaign of them all. Their “presence”, which is essential for any campaign, was roaring right out of the gate, and they really had their act together. Her “Path to Victory” document was impressive too, laying out many of the steps we need to undertake to ensure we’re ready to take on McGuinty’s Liberals in 2011. And their office has been working HARD to get their message out. They were the first ones with their call centre up and running, and I’ve gotten a few calls from them, seeking to make sure my membership was up to date, (I had let it lapse) with their staff asking good and pointed questions to get me to really consider where I was putting my support. And of course, their fundraising machine was just that… a MACHINE. It’s my sincere hope that regardless of the outcome of this leadership campaign, that the eventual winner ensures that the folks running Christine’s campaign have a big say in the 2011 Election campaign.
However, you’ll notice I’ve been talking about the team, and not Christine herself. Not to knock her, but to be perfectly honest, I still don’t know much about her. I never got to go to her events, and I’ve missed the debates so far, so I really don’t know who she is, or where she stands on the issues. So I’ve not decided on who my second choice is going to be, but at present, Christine is my leading contender. So depending on how the last few weeks of the campaign goes, and what I get to know about Christine as a person, who knows… I may even be issuing another post, retracting this one and issuing a new endorsement. Or maybe I’ll get to meet her, and decide to issue another post giving my second vote support to someone else… who knows.
But in the meantime, I’ve decided to finally indicate where my support is presently leaning… and that’s with Tim Hudak.
From the get-go, Tim has personally impressed me the most. To be honest, he strikes me as the one who has the best “Premier” presence of all the candidates. As a younger candidate, he has lots of room to “grow” over the next couple of years, and strikes me as the only one who could go toe-to-toe with the carefully crafted “working man” image that the Liberals have endeavoured to give Dalton McGuinty. And make no mistake… it’s just an “image”. You know, the no-tie, and/or the rolled up sleeves he has at almost every event… total stage-management.
LOL… and we interrupt this endorsement to mention that the Klees Campaign just called me thirty seconds ago, looking for my support. Sorry guys, as I said, just a little too late out of the gate. Now back to our endorsement…
Now where were we… ah yes, the fall of Dalton McGuinty. If Tim wins the leadership, he may well end up like Dalton McGuinty, and very well may not win his first round in 2011. As we’re a year and a half late beginning our Leadership race, (it’s well known that I said it should have started in London in February of 2008) there may simply not be enough time to mount an effective campaign to replace the Liberals. However, I firmly believe that it is entirely possible that even if the Liberals win in 2011, Tim is the right man to lead the charge and hold the McGuinty Liberals to minority. In my opinion, any means to reduce their clout in Queen’s Park is a good thing.
That being said, I'm starting to think that with each passing day, that it's more and more likely that we're going to have a real shot at replacing Mr. McGuinty in 2011, and it's not because of anything I'm hearing from within conservative circles... it's with what I'm hearing from the "general public". Like my conversation with one guy today, who's pretty much as non-conservative as you get. He typically votes Green, and is certainly more left in his worldview than myself, but he was talking to me and started railing against the new HST today... totally out of the blue, on his own initiative. And this is a guy who NEVER talks politics unless I bring it up. So I'm thinking to myself "Wow, if THIS guy is ticked at Dalton over the HST, the Liberals are in SERIOUS TROUBLE come 2011..." Like I said, when politicians get people who never talk about politics ticked off, they've got serious problems. And I think Tim's the only one who can put together a serious alternative government to the people of Ontario.
But in order to have a hope of forming government, you have to have internal party unity, something we haven't had in quite a while. I believe that only Tim can truly wear the “bridge builder” badge within the Party. Christine has a good portion of the old “Tory” camp, Randy has the far-right wing sown up, and Frank has a large chunk of the “So-Con” vote. But Tim? From my chair, I see Tim as having a truly “grassroots” and broad based level of support. Of the folks I know, he’s got some of the So-Cons, some of the “Red Tories”, a whole whack of the fiscal conservatives, and one more important group… the “Harris” Tories, of which I would consider myself a member... that all important group that essentially has been sitting on their hands since Ernie Eves took over in 2002. (Hey Mike, we miss you!) Yes, I was pretty much sitting on my hands on the Provincial side ever since then. But folks? With Tim’s campaign, there’s an interesting energy and spark that I’ve not seen in a long time. Thanks in large part to Tim and his campaign, I’d have to say that I’m back.
And then there’s the personal touch that Tim has brought to the campaign, and I think that’s what really got me when we met. He’s got that same charisma that many have said Mulroney had, where he remembers everything about you, and really seems to care when he’s talking to you. When he realized who I was in the blogging world, he immediately jumped into a deep conversation about the content of many things I’d been asking and talking about over the previous weeks. He’d actually taken the time to read what I’d said, and commented on it in a manner that indicated that he’d actually READ and thought about what I’d said. Then, within a few days, I noticed him take action on our conversation. He didn’t just TALK, he ACTED… and that’s what we need in a new leader. That was one of my biggest problems with John Tory’s leadership… he and his team acted as if they knew everything. When I was on a conference call with Mr. Tory the one time, I put forward some of the thoughts that I’d been sensing from the grassroots, and my comments were dismissed by John out of hand, without even a moments consideration of what I’d said. Well as we saw in the by-election, my comments were EXACTLY correct, and had they been heeded, the outcome might have been different.
But with Tim, the attitude is COMPLETELY different. The following week after we’d met, he called me up out of the blue, just to let me know about an upcoming event, and letting me know that he would be giving a speech dealing with several of the very things we’d been talking about. There’s an openness and responsiveness about Tim that’s a breath of fresh air, and I think the one thing that can save this Party from imploding upon itself, and from giving Dalton McGuinty and his Liberals a free ride in the 2011 election.
So there you have it, my endorsement, and some of the disjointed reasoning behind it all. I think Tim Hudak is the best person to take over the leadership of this Party, and the Premiership of Ontario.
Go get’em Tim!