Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tim Hudak Pulls Out Ontario Conservative Leadership

Debate over Human Rights Commissions should intensify with new Tory leader

The leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party has been decided today, as Tim Hudak has emerged the winner.

The new leadership of the party began to take shape earlier this afternoon when Randy Hillier was eliminated from contention.

At that time Hudak had been leading, with Frank Klees in second place. Projected front runner Christine Elliott collected the third most first-choice ballots.

The principal issue in the leadership race turned out to be the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Hudak and Hillier favour abolishing the OHRC. Elliott and Klees prefer to reform them.

Elliott and Klees were adamant that a call to abolish the OHRC would give the next election to the Dalton McGuinty Liberal party. Hudak had pulled no punches in denouncing such sentiments as "Liberal-lite".

"If you want to put the election on a platter for the Liberals, the best way to do so is to run from our conservative principles and try to be Liberal-lite," he told Klees during a debate. "If you take on McGuinty's position, then you're Liberal lite."

Klees, at the time, cautioned that wedge politics have been and would continue to be, disastrous for the party.

"I don't want to go back to those days when wedge issues were the flavour of the day, when we were picking fights with every stakeholder group in this province," he explained. "That's why we're not in government today."

Apparently, neither Elliott nor Klees, who had both denounced Hudak's plans to abolish the OHRC, considered the issue pivotal enough to bow out of the race in order to ensure the other reformist candidate a path to victory.

That may speak volumes about how seriously either of these candidates considered the OHRC. Both had come out in favour of reforming -- as opposed to abolishing -- the Commissions, although only Klees had actually outlined a program for reform.

Elliott may have also had any fiscal conservative credibility she wanted to lay claim to kneecapped by the deficits currently being run by her husband, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. Regardless of whether or not these deficits are his fault -- and they aren't -- he will, nonetheless, have to wear them for a long time to come.

Perhaps his wife will as well.

One can only hope that Tim Hudak heeds Frank Klees' warning about wedge politics, and that Hudak finds a suitable place for Christine Elliott within the new party leadership.

Other bloggers writing about this topic:

Russ Campbell - "Tim Hudak Wins Ontario PC Leadership Race"

Dr Roy Eappen - "New Tory Leader in Ontario: Tim Hudak"

Brian Gardiner - "Hudak Wins"

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