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Not good times for Tim Hudak/Ontario PC’s

Yesterday won’t count as one of Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak’s better days. First came this snippet from the Windsor Star that the party had “fired” their candidate in Essex from last election over a dispute on “right to work” legislation:

Dave Brister was fired today as the Ontario PC candidate in Essex for publicly criticizing the party’s support of right-to-work legislation…“I was asked to recant my opposition to RTW legislation in exchange for retaining my position & I refused to do so,” Brister tweeted. Brister was a popular and conservative Windsor city councillor before stepping down to run in Essex in the last Ontario general election in 2011. Brister lost to the NDP’s Taras Natyshak.

Later in the day, this announcement came from Frank Klees, long time MPP, that he’s had enough:

Veteran MPP Frank Klees is calling it quits…“This is a very difficult decision for me, but I am convinced that after almost two decades of public service, the time is right for me to move on to the next chapter of my life,” he said in a statement..While Hudak and Klees have never been close, the looming departure robs the Tories of one of their most respected caucus members and a shoo-in for a cabinet post in any future administration.

Not exactly great timing for the PC’s with byelections currently in progress, and not exactly a confidence booster for the rest of the PC MPP’s. One of your most senior MPP’s calls it quits, and basically is saying he doesn’t think Hudak’s fortunes are going to turn around.

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3 comments to Not good times for Tim Hudak/Ontario PC’s

  • monkey

    I would generally describe myself as PC supporter, but even I think this was a dumb move. Essex is right next door to Windsor and although largely rural, a sizeable contingent commutes to Windsor daily which is heavily unionized so taking this position could very well cost them an otherwise winneable riding. They only narrowly lost Essex last time around and it went Conservative federally, yet their federal MP Jeff Watson despite being an ex Reformer is fairly pro-union. He was one of the few if not only member in his caucus to support the Bloc’s bill to ban replacement workers for those in federal industries. In general I think MPs should only be turfed if they take extreme positions or disagree with the party on most issues. Disagreeing on one or two issues is a sign of a big tent party in a health democracy not a sign of weakness. Unlike most on this blog, I do support right to work laws, but also realize they aren’t likely to fly in Ontario and don’t think its an issue worth losing an election over. For those who support the idea they should focus on Alberta which is the only province where it might have a chance at passing. If it faces too much resistance there, it certainly won’t fly elsewhere in Canada where the labour movement is stronger.

    As for comparisons to Indiana and Michigan, those states while close geographically and fairly different politically speaking. Indiana is a fairly red state (Its voted GOP in all but two presidential elections in the last 50 years, which were 1964 and 2008) and its population is evenly spread out unlike neighbouring Illinois, so only a minority live in the Rust Belt which stretches from Pittsburgh to Chicago. There are just as many that live in the central parts which don’t have much of a manufacturing base and the south which is on the northern edge of the bible belt. In Michigan, the GOP hasn’t faced an election since introducing right to work laws, so lets see what happens. Also Michigan is more conservative as the floor for GOP support is close to what the ceiling for PC support in Ontario is. The states Ontario is most similar to politically are Illinois and New York which are both heavily urbanized and have a large world class city. Neither of those states are right to work states. The only comparative examples I can think of are in Europe where you have many countries where union membership is voluntary, but their labour relations systems are radically different so bad comparisons. In Germany union participation is optional but any company with more than 1,000 people must have 50% of its board of directors be employees while in the Nordic countries unionization rates are over 2/3 so any company that paid less than union wages would go out of business fast as no one would apply to work there.

    As for Frank Klees, he was always a maverick so I don’t think his will be too harmful. I think the loss of Elizabeth Witmer was more so as she was one of the few Bill Davis type Red Tories left and one who could win in a fairly urban riding. I highly doubt Hudak is stupid enough to want to associate with the Ford brothers. At best the PCs will win a few seats in the 416, while associating with them could hurt them elsewhere in the province where most don’t like their antics. Randy Hillier is rather extreme, but he does well by playing on people’s frustrations in that part of the province. His riding is very rural and many are angry due to policies catering too much to the large urban centres and ignoring rural areas, so he essentially plays to that frustration. If the Liberals and NDP stopped attacking those in rural areas who criticize their urban centric policies, politicians like Hillier wouldn’t have the support they do.

  • Kyle

    If Brad is correct, then this could be a good thing. The PCs already have Randy Hillier and he’s been quiet lately. That won’t last, especially if an election is called. They should let Doug Ford be a candidate and this Mad Maddie character. Hudak won’t know what to do. Between dealing with a trio of nutjobs and trying to explain away his own stupidity, he’ll once again get buried.

  • Brad

    Klees’ departure leaves the door open for a certain nasty town councilor in Newmarket to move on up. Locally known as Mad Maddie, DiMuccio would make Klees look like Trotsky in what is a very safe PC seat. Bad news for Hudak? maybe. Bad news for politics in Newmarket Aurora? very likely.

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