John Tory loses by-election, expected to resign as party leader

Earlier tonight, as the polls came in, it became clearer and clearer that PC Party of Ontario leader John Tory would lose his last chance at challenging Dalton McGuinty for the Premier’s office.  By the time the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock by-election was called by the Canadian Press at about 10:30pm, Tory’s margin of loss represented a 9% point drop from former PC MPP Laurie Scott’s electoral footing.  Scott beat her opponent by 20% during the last provincial election.

Tory has scheduled a press conference for Friday and many expect the embattled leader to resign.  Having faced a humiliating loss in the previous provincial election after championing a policy on religious school choice and polarizing the party after a divisive leadership review, it is unknown how the former CEO of Rogers and commissioner of the CFL expects to quarterback his team after this evening’s loss of what was considered a “safe seat”.  Tory did hint to reporters tonight – and I’m paraphrasing – that his future ‘may not be in public life’.

From reports on the ground, party workers were not expecting this loss though some cite the typical organizational campaign and e-day deficiencies.  I have it on good authority that the PCs did not do any internal polling in the riding for this contest. (I have it on better authority that polling was done and 10 days prior to e-day and it showed Tory trailing by 5 points).

As a leader, John Tory retired the debt of the PC Party bringing the party’s fiscal position back into the black.  The party will hopefully continue to benefit from his strengths as a fundraiser.  Many have described Tory as a good man, though not the right man.  Despite his shortcomings tonight, public service is a sacrifice to one’s family life and career and I know that Conservatives, myself included, are thankful for his tireless contributions.  From my personal experience, I’ve known Tory to be a dedicated, passionate and faithful activist for Canadian Conservatives.  I know that he’ll continue to be committed to advancing our parties both provincially and federally.

Names of potential candidates to replace Tory as leader of the PCPO that are being pushed around tonight include Christine Elliot, John Yakabuski, Randy Hillier, Peter Shurman and Tim Hudak.  It is expected that many will step forward as there were many known to be waiting in the wings prior to the previous leadership review.

An interesting and chaotic era in provincial Conservative politics begins tomorrow.  Rebuilding starts in the morning.

FLASHBACK: Five years ago this month, I met John Tory as he went on a provincial listening tour before contesting the provincial PC leadership.

Comments

comments

  • http://www.twitter.com/Josh_Terry JT

    I think it was hit right on the head – John Tory is a good man, but not the right man. I hope he'll leave the leadership with the same grace and humility he has shown during his rocky tenure as PC Leader, and all PC's wish him all the best.

  • Bryan

    John Tory losing another seat is causing me mixed emotions. Kind of like the time my mother-in-law drove my new Cadillac over a cliff!

  • anon

    Go Hillier!

  • aek

    Stephen, regarding your comment: “I know that Conservatives, myself included, are thankful for his tireless contributions.”

    Do not presume that 'Conservatives' or even conservatives share your opinion regarding John Tory. As both a conservative and Conservative, I do not.

    A more accurate statement would have been: 'I know that some Conservatives, myself included, are thankful for his tireless contributions.'

    To avoid making assumptions that you cannot substantiate, better to just speak for yourself.

  • Cool Blue

    What's Walter Robinson up to? Maybe he'd be interested in running?

  • David

    This is nothing short of disastrous.He has no choice but to step down.

    His stance on the funding of religious schools was right. The current policy is discriminatory.One of the arguements against the funding was the huge $400M cost. Today that in retrospect is peanuts.

    Ontario is sleepwalking through the largest crisis in a generation. Ontario needs better leadership in the government and in the opposition.Both have been denied her.

  • Liz J

    One very important factor in choosing a new leader will be the need to rebuild as well as lead. That will require experience and my choice would be John Yakabuski from the Ottawa Valley.

    We don't want to make the same mistake the federal Liberals have made by bringing in a greenhorn to lead and rebuild with no background or experience in politics. We have to get this one right.

  • Cale

    Stephen – Yes, we need to start to rebuild. I can't help feel that along the way John Tory stopped listening to his support base and went with the advice of his hired consultants. That cost him big time and it's cost the party also.

    We need to turn this ship around for sure, and the sooner the better. Whoever takes the helm has to be younger,
    and able to move the two factions of the party together over those common PC values.

  • Beer and Popcorn

    I think this is the best thing that could have happened to the party. I understand John Tory is a good guy, but I found it very tough to get excited about a John Tory-led party after his performance in 2007. In many ways I think that Tory was the Stephane Dion of the PC's and McGuinty made a big mistake in taking him out of the mix.

    Stephen – one question – you note that ” Tory’s margin of loss represented a 9% point drop from former PC MPP Laurie Scott’s electoral footing” but some of your colleagues posted results which listed that Laurie Scott won with 24,273 votes in 2007 against a Liberal candidate who came in at 14,273, while this election Tory received 14,576 while the Liberals won with 15,482.

    Looks like 10,000 conservatives stayed home.

  • Carson Clay

    They cloned Peter Shurman ? :-)

  • The Champ

    Thank God, that guy was absolutely dreadful. What a waste of 5 years. First he was non existent before the 2007 election. He never made any headlines, he was basically a phantom leader, than he gets into an election and decides to win it with good intentions and by alienating his core support. After the inevitable loss he for some bizarre reason still thinks he is qualified to bring this party to power, gets a terrible result from his leadership vote, than he still has the nerve to stay on to continue to waste our time. Good riddance, we sure as heck don't need anymore red Tories giving Dalton 4 more years in power. I am almost convinced John Tory is actually a Liberal supporter. GET OFF THE STAGE!

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    yeah, don't get too bent out of shape on that one. It's a standard line for losing politicians on their way out (see most victory speeches that reference the opponent — he's a good man, Canadians thank them for their service etc).

    Here's part of Stephen Harper's 2006 victory speech, “Since 1988, Mr. Martin has worked hard for the people of Canada as a Member of Parliament, Minister of Finance, and Prime Minister. I thank Mr. Martin for his service to Canada and to Canadians. To Mr. Layton and Monsieur Duceppe, I congratulate you for running solid campaigns. All of our parties have different philosophies but we are all democrats. But we are all stronger because you, our opponents, have put yourselves on the line and advanced the policies and values you believe in.”

  • Josh Lavine

    For conservatives, this really isn't such bad news. You're right that Tory is a good man, but that isn't enough when it comes to politics. His departure will open the doors for a true conservative to become leader, and give the party a definitive break from the disaster of the previous provincial election.

    A wise man once said that when the Gods wish to punish us, they give us exactly what we pray for. For that reason, Liberals and progressives shouldn't be rejoicing at this result. Even had Tory won, he would have remained weak and unable to command the respect of his entire party. Plus, he was far less right wing than whoever will replace him – that person having an extremely good chance to take over from Dalton the next time around.

  • aek

    Stephen, regarding your comment: “I know that Conservatives, myself included, are thankful for his tireless contributions.”

    Do not presume that 'Conservatives' or even conservatives share your opinion regarding John Tory. As both a conservative and Conservative, I do not.

    A more accurate statement would have been: 'I know that some Conservatives, myself included, are thankful for his tireless contributions.'

    To avoid making assumptions that you cannot substantiate, better to just speak for yourself.

  • Cool Blue

    What's Walter Robinson up to? Maybe he'd be interested in running?

  • David

    This is nothing short of disastrous.He has no choice but to step down.

    His stance on the funding of religious schools was right. The current policy is discriminatory.One of the arguements against the funding was the huge $400M cost. Today that in retrospect is peanuts.

    Ontario is sleepwalking through the largest crisis in a generation. Ontario needs better leadership in the government and in the opposition.Both have been denied her.

  • Liz J

    One very important factor in choosing a new leader will be the need to rebuild as well as lead. That will require experience and my choice would be John Yakabuski from the Ottawa Valley.

    We don't want to make the same mistake the federal Liberals have made by bringing in a greenhorn to lead and rebuild with no background or experience in politics. We have to get this one right.

  • Cale

    Stephen – Yes, we need to start to rebuild. I can't help feel that along the way John Tory stopped listening to his support base and went with the advice of his hired consultants. That cost him big time and it's cost the party also.

    We need to turn this ship around for sure, and the sooner the better. Whoever takes the helm has to be younger,
    and able to move the two factions of the party together over those common PC values.

  • Beer and Popcorn

    I think this is the best thing that could have happened to the party. I understand John Tory is a good guy, but I found it very tough to get excited about a John Tory-led party after his performance in 2007. In many ways I think that Tory was the Stephane Dion of the PC's and McGuinty made a big mistake in taking him out of the mix.

    Stephen – one question – you note that ” Tory’s margin of loss represented a 9% point drop from former PC MPP Laurie Scott’s electoral footing” but some of your colleagues posted results which listed that Laurie Scott won with 24,273 votes in 2007 against a Liberal candidate who came in at 14,273, while this election Tory received 14,576 while the Liberals won with 15,482.

    Looks like 10,000 conservatives stayed home.

  • Carson Clay

    They cloned Peter Shurman ? :-)

  • The Champ

    Thank God, that guy was absolutely dreadful. What a waste of 5 years. First he was non existent before the 2007 election. He never made any headlines, he was basically a phantom leader, than he gets into an election and decides to win it with good intentions and by alienating his core support. After the inevitable loss he for some bizarre reason still thinks he is qualified to bring this party to power, gets a terrible result from his leadership vote, than he still has the nerve to stay on to continue to waste our time. Good riddance, we sure as heck don't need anymore red Tories giving Dalton 4 more years in power. I am almost convinced John Tory is actually a Liberal supporter. GET OFF THE STAGE!

  • Liz J

    Walter Robinson would be a great choice! He's fully bilingual if that's a factor as well. He's got a lot of smarts and a good background for economic challenges ahead.

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    yeah, don't get too bent out of shape on that one. It's a standard line for losing politicians on their way out (see most victory speeches that reference the opponent — he's a good man, Canadians thank them for their service etc).

    Here's part of Stephen Harper's 2006 victory speech, “Since 1988, Mr. Martin has worked hard for the people of Canada as a Member of Parliament, Minister of Finance, and Prime Minister. I thank Mr. Martin for his service to Canada and to Canadians. To Mr. Layton and Monsieur Duceppe, I congratulate you for running solid campaigns. All of our parties have different philosophies but we are all democrats. But we are all stronger because you, our opponents, have put yourselves on the line and advanced the policies and values you believe in.”

  • Josh Lavine

    For conservatives, this really isn't such bad news. You're right that Tory is a good man, but that isn't enough when it comes to politics. His departure will open the doors for a true conservative to become leader, and give the party a definitive break from the disaster of the previous provincial election.

    A wise man once said that when the Gods wish to punish us, they give us exactly what we pray for. For that reason, Liberals and progressives shouldn't be rejoicing at this result. Even had Tory won, he would have remained weak and unable to command the respect of his entire party. Plus, he was far less right wing than whoever will replace him – that person having an extremely good chance to take over from Dalton the next time around.