He didn’t use a slur in reference to Andrea Horwath, as radio personality Lou Schizas did on the AM 640 John Oakley Show, following Horwath’s propping up of the first budget of the Kathleen Wynne government, but Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak nevertheless berated the New Democratic Party leader for supporting it.
Is this the best Hudak could come up with to address a member with whom he shares the Opposition benches?
The Liberals under Dalton McGuinty have used up much of their good standing, so many Ontarians are looking forward to the next provincial election in October 2015 – if not sooner. But after successfully negotiating for an expanded job creation program for youth, welfare reforms, cuts to auto insurance rates and more money for long-term care as well as a new Financial Accountability Office, it would have been foolish of Horwath to then dump the Wynne budget and precipitate an election.
For one thing, she wouldn’t have won any conservative votes if she had done so. She also would not have done the NDP much good.
On the other hand, when the next election does come – and if investigation into the gas plants cancellation debacle keeps opening up more and more of the alleged unethical behaviour of the former McGuinty government (of which Wynne was a key minister), that may happen sooner rather than later – Horwath can play the integrity card. She can say she cared more about the interests of Ontarians than just scoring partisan political points.
Hudak, on the other hand, would have to make a good case for why rather than face the reality of what a minority government means – all parties working together for the good of the people – he chose to present himself as power-hungry and only interested in bringing the government down.
This current gambit would put the PC leader in the same boat as McGuinty, who never fully adjusted to minority government. Look at what it cost the province as McGuinty fought to maintain a Liberal majority – a reported $585 million just for the cancellation of two gas plants in order to save some Liberal seats. Now they are faced with an investigation into alleged deleted documents meant to hide the trail of the debacle. Who knows what else will surface?
In his efforts to sidestep what Ontario voters have shown they prefer at this time, the PC leader has refused to participate in any negotiations with the Wynne government on its budget although he has acknowledged that he actually has no dispute with it.
So, what if the shoe was on the other foot? What if the PCs manage to move to the other side of the Legislature in a minority government? Would they play it like their Conservative spiritual leader Stephen Harper (or Joe Clark before him) and act as if they were in a majority? Or would they accede to the reality of having to work with all parties in the best interest of the people of this province?
Is it any wonder then that there are murmurings that some in the PC party are not happy with Hudak as leader?
Come the fall, the parties can look forward to by-elections in London, Windsor and Ottawa for opportunities to shift the balance of power.
The PCs will have the summer to strategize and reorient themselves. They are right to keep working at getting at the whole truth about the gas plant cancellation costs and all that involved. But they also have to show the undecided and swing voters in this province that they are seriously concerned about the province’s wellbeing and not solely focused on warfare against the other parties in the Legislature and on being in power again.
The PCs should also bear in mind that we may be weary of Liberal blunders and misspending, but we are still smarting from the Mike Harris years. The spectacle of a still unsettled amalgamated Toronto, a funding-starved public transit system, and a dilapidated public housing file are among the constant reminders of the Harris legacy.