| Picture credit: CBC
The leader of the Progressive Conservatives of Ontario, Tim Hudak, despite losing two by-elections last week, quickly dismissed suggestions that he should consider resigning. In fact, he’s quoted as saying he’s confident his party would win the next election.
Hudak blames what he called “a big, hard wall of hard-core union support and activism” for his party’s loss in the Kitchener-Waterloo riding—a riding the Progressive Conservatives had held for 22 years, and which became vacant when senior PC Elizabeth Witmer retired after accepting from Dalton McGuinty a plumb $188,000-a-year-job as Chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
I have no doubt the Tory campaign was opposed by “a big, hard wall of hard-core union support and activism,” as Hudak put it, but won’t this sort of opposition be faced across the board in the province’s next general election, tentatively scheduled to be held on October 1, 2015?
So how can the PCs’ intrepid leader be so confident that his party would win the next election? Perhaps it’s the same sort of false or pretend confidence that made him say how certain he was that he’d win the general election in 2011 or the by-elections last week.
Frankly, my confidence in the man was shaken by his party’s less than stellar performance during the 2011 campaign and again in the two recent by-elections. And I agree with Hudak’s own assessment when he told media representatives, “The buck stops with me, I’m always the leader.”
I take little or no consolation from the fact that the situation would have been worse had the Grits won Kitchener-Waterloo and secured a majority government. What I see is a Tory party that has 36 seats, which is one less than it had on last October’s election night and only 10 more than it won under their leader John Tory four years earlier, and 12 more than it won under Ernie Eaves four years before that.
Yes, a net of 12 seats won after almost a decade of bungling by Dalton McGuinty’s Grits.
If our PC leader cannot win a seat that’s been Tory for 22 years, what hope is there that he can win, at least, the 54 seats necessary to form a majority government?
But let’s be realistic: Tim Hudak is almost certainly going to be the leader in 2015. After all, he survived the automatic leadership review following last October’s general election with just under 80 per cent of support from party members.
Moreover, with no compelling alternative readily available to quickly replace Hudak, it would be political suicide for the party to hold a protracted leadership contest with the possibility of a snap election at any time—the Liberals are, after all, a minority government.
So, I for one do not believe the prospects are very bright for a PC government in Ontario much before another two elections. Put another way, I believe Hudak will lose the next general election and only be replaced as leader after that.