Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hudak Having Trouble Navigating a Hard Right Turn?

Or is there more to Tim Hudak than meets the eye?

When Tim Hudak recently won the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, many people expected to see that party take a hard right turn.

Bearing the support of former Ontario Premier Mike Harris, hailing himself as a "common sense conservative", and having set the Ontario Human Rights Commission in his gun sights, many expected to see a solid social conservative platform to emerge out of Hudak's leadership.

What is emerging seems to be very different.

After giving his leadership rivals Christine Elliott and Frank Klees -- whom he had described as "Liberal lite" -- positions in his Shadow Cabinet, what seems to be emerging is an Ontario PC party that is continuing to make efforts to be more of a "big tent" conservative coalition.

Just as his shadow cabinet appointments seem to contradict the expectations of a socially conservative direction for his party, the Ontario PCs courting of newspaper columnist Sue-Ann Levy seems to add further contradiction -- and further hope for those wishing for a big tent conservative party.

There's certainly nothing unsurprising about the PCs wanting to recruit a Toronto Sun columnist -- especially one who is such a vociferous critic of Toronto Mayor David Miller.

But aside from being a stalwart fiscal conservative, Levy is also gay. In fact, she marked Toronto Pride week 2007 by coming out with a front-page column.

She could also help shore up Jewish support in the St Paul's riding.

The riding is coming up for a by-election, as longtime Liberal MPP Michael Bryant left for a job in the private sector.

Bryant was previously involved with the controversial "No Gun, No Funeral" campaign, making winning his former riding a very enticing prize for the Tories.

With Sue-Ann Levy as their candidate, the Conservatives may have a very real shot (pun definitely not intended) at winning this riding. They would definitely have a very real shot (pun still unintended) at re-branding their party and their new leader as a kinder, gentler Conservative party.


Other bloggers writing about this topic:

MJ Murphy - "A Nightmare is Also a Dream"

Walker Morrow - "The Secret World of the HRCs"

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for the Lynch Mob link! One thing though - it was a long-time guest-poster who wrote that particular post, not me. I edit the site, but I'm not the author of all of the posts.

    In reply to your actual post: that's interesting that Tim Hudak hasn't moved as far socially-right as people thought he would. Myself, I tend to like large-tent conservative movements ( speaking for myself, I tend to be somewhat on the conservative fringe ), but then, I don't live in Ontario - do you think there's going to be a downside to it?

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  2. Heh. That's kind of embarrassing. Your editorial note is actually right at the top of the page.

    Mea culpa. I'll fix this later.

    Now, that being said, I'm not shocked that Hudak has apparently committed himself to building a big-tent coalition. He can't honestly be dumb enough to think that he doesn't have to.

    Not only is big-tent conservatism a good thing -- properly implemented, it's dynamic and intellectually vibrant -- but it's an absolute necessity.

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  3. No worries! It happens to the best of us.

    I think we're pretty much in agreement - a big-tent coalition is necessary, and it's also a good thing for conservatism: everybody wins ( except the people who aren't a part of the conservative movement ).

    I think there's a bit of a danger to big-tent coalitions though, which has been giving the Republicans in the States some grief especially - sometimes the different, um...'factions', I guess, of the coalition can start to squabble amongst themselves. Also, I think you can run the risk of having a large enough tent that the crazies start to figure out how to get inside, and then you have to start worrying about what your fringe is going to do.

    But I guess that's what you meant by saying that such a movement would have to be properly implemented. And I don't think those risks outweigh the definite benefit of having a big-tent conservative party in Ontario.

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  4. Right. But I think what we see in the States is that various factions of the coalition only really tend to squabble when they become too pig-headed to accept that some within the coalition don't share all their views.

    Having those people around isn't very conducive to a big tent coalition. We saw that here in Canada for years with the Progressive Conservatives -- and still see it with individuals such as Garth Turner and Danny Williams.

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  5. Hmm... that's a good point. I guess as long as Hudak is smart enough to weed those sorts of people out of his party, where he can, he should be able to navigate his way around a lot of problems.

    Also, a lot of the problems in the Republican party could probably be traced back to the blows that the party has been taking in the last few years, culminating in the last election. Or at least, those things served to bring the party's internal problems to a head. So if Tim Hudak can keep up the momentum in his party, that might also serve as a way to get around a lot of any of the squabbling that might break out in his party.

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  6. If Hudak plays it smart, he won't have to weed out any destructive elements of his party -- they'll weed themselves out voluntarily.

    Which is a lot less damaging than having to expel them for being crazy.

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