Two Ontario Progressive Conservative leaders won on the weekend at their party’s annual general meeting in Niagara Falls. PC Leader Tim Hudak received 78.7 per cent support in a vote of party delegates in Saturday’s leadership review, and Richard Ciano defeated former cabinet minister John Snobelen and Kevin Gaudet on Sunday with 54 per cent of the ballots.
Mr. Hudak did well enough in the last election to have earned a second chance to lead the party. The Tories increased their share of the popular vote by 3.8 per cent and added to their seat-count: 37 seats, up from the 25 they held at dissolution.
More importantly, Tim Hudak seems to understand why he lost the election, despite holding a double-digit lead in public-opinion polls going in. “The fact of the matter is that I, as your leader, did not give sufficient voice to a bold, conservative alternative,” he told the delegates.
Mr. Hudak acknowledged that his campaign concentrated too much on “secondary issues,” and could have been “more courteous” and “respectful” to the local campaigns. He also suggested his team should have been “much better attuned” to the changing conditions on the ground.
Much of what Mr. Hudak said was in tune with the message from the new party president Richard Ciano—the two leaders do seem to be singing from the same hymnbook. Time will tell, however, whether Mr. Hudak will walk the talk. Given Mr. Ciano overwhelming win, party delegates obviously believe he will.
Ontario’s Liberals and their media friends like to demonize the “right,” and will, of course, seize on the fact Mr. Hudak implied he made a mistake in not going far enough to the right.
Outside of Toronto, though, conservative values are highly respected and are likely held, at least in part, by a majority of voters.
Best wishes to Messrs. Hudak and Ciano!