Losing three seats in the legislature that were formerly held by cabinet ministers should have been a catastrophe for Premier Kathleen Wynne, and it is certainly no cause for rejoicing by Liberals; but in the aftermath of last month’s by-elections it is once again Conservative leader Tim Hudak who comes out as the biggest loser. His party captured one seat that nobody thinks was due to his efforts. Given the various scandals and blunders around energy and e-health, coupled with mass defections of senior MPP’s the Liberals should be a party on the ropes, and who knows it still may be. Governments and voters get tired after ten years.
But what is clear, is that Hudak, to use a hockey expression, just can’t put the puck in the net, at least not yet. His party blew a big lead in the 2011 general election, and the pollsters had him ahead in London, and competitive in Scarborough and Ottawa, but either the polls were wrong, or something happened in the last couple of days of the campaign. When you look back at the Tories 42 year reign between 1943 and 1985, what the party seemed to have then, and lacks now; is a real sense of how to stay at the centre in Ontario politics. Of course the party was called PROGRESSIVE Conservative then; and many of its policies were more progressive than conservative. The Hudak Tories are good at pointing out what is wrong with the current government, but aside from presumably not making the same errors as the Liberals, have failed to provide a clear vision of what they would do. Add to that Hudak’s legacy as part of the Harris regime and so far Ontario voters have taken a pass.