Why Tim Hudak lost

tim-hudak

Last week, Ontario voted to re-elect Dalton McGuinty to a third term as Premier of Canada’s largest province. Ontario is big on the Canadian stage and is unrivaled in sheer population numbers at 13.2 million, unrivaled in its debt numbers at $237 Billion, unrivaled in unemployment outside of Atlantic Canada and it set a new record for voter turnout: a low at 49% — unseen since 1867.

Given the numbers, it would be foolish to dismiss Ontario’s hunger for change and the Hudak team knew this. They did everything to label their candidate as the province’s agent of change — they even named their platform “Changebook”. Yet a label will only take you so far. What Hudak’s team failed to offer was change itself.

Barack Obama won a campaign on hope and change. Though in truth he was a superficial agent of change at best. Suffering wars, recession and bailouts, a chance to elect America’s first black President proved to be the change America had been waiting for, but not the change they needed. Three years later, America is still at war, deeper into recession and Obama is still trying to bail out America with more spending. Hope and change indeed. But America was interested in what Obama represented, not who he was.

To say the least, the Hudak plan to offer superficial change did not elect him to high office. No, on October 6th, Tim P. Hudak was not giving a chance to Ontario to turn a chapter in Canada’s troubled anti-Slovak history and elect the first descendant of Slovak grandparents to sit as provincial leader of the free Confederation.  The greatest strength offered by Tim Hudak to the Ontario electorate was that his name wasn’t Dalton McGuinty. Needless to say, it wasn’t enough.

If you took a passive view of the PC campaign over the past two months, you might have been vaguely aware of what Changebook’s greatest promoted promise was: a cut in the HST! (ahem, off of home heating costs). Or maybe you heard about chain gangs for prisoners! Or that foreign workers something something bad something something! Or that Premier Tim was going to reverse Premier Dad’s move to educate our kids about “the gays”.

Tim Hudak ran as the “change” candidate, yet he offered none. Why? A few polls early in the low signal to noise phase of the campaign early this year told his team that he was up 20 points! Time to shift the “change” plan into the superficial gear and run a front-runner no drama campaign, it was likely decreed. Yet, those polls didn’t really represent anything substantive and as the campaign began, Hudak could only count himself to be a meager few points ahead.

A true message of change was one that would have resonated with the people of Ontario. Every new green job that Dalton McGuinty was creating was costing 5 jobs in the real economy due to the higher cost of doing business. Ontario’s credit rating will come under greater pressure in the coming years making it cost much more to pay off the interest on Ontario’s $237 billion debt — now nearly double from when McGuinty took office. Ontario is a have not province meaning it is the laggard of Confederation, drawing on the wealth generative capacity of the likes of Newfoundland and Saskatchewan. You want a message of change? Ontario stands to our own Greece as $7 of new government spending is supported by $1 of economic growth. What to change?

1) End government involvement in creating economically unsustainable industries.

2) Cut the HST from 13 to 12 to 11 percent

3) Cut the Ontario corporate tax rate to encourage new investment

4) Cut government spending 5%, then 10-15%

5) New union and lobbyist transparency rules

5 priorities? Stop the Gravy Train? Sounds familiar? A clear and consistent message track. Put change in the window. Tim Hudak can be Ontario’s next Premier, but only if he lets Ontario know he has a plan to change.

  • Guest

    Deep cuts were successfully labelled by the media (led by the nose by the Liberals) as irresponsible and “a return to the damage done by Harris”.  Yet moderate cuts to both the Ontario Corporate Tax Rate, and to Ontario Government spending (outside of healthcare and education), and new accountability rules for unions were key planks in Changebook.

    You claim to be in favour of the plan laid out by Changebook, yet you wholeheartedly oppose Changebook. Such hypocrisy!

    Furthermore, the election swung for the PC Party on the seats in the GTA – the PCs won the rest of the province; the Liberals bought the 416. NOTHING in what you suggest would have changed the outcome in the 416, but would most definitely have lost the PCs seats elsewhere in suburban Ontario.

    You need to reflect a little more before you comment further.

  • Guest

    Deep cuts were successfully labelled by the media (led by the nose by the Liberals) as irresponsible and “a return to the damage done by Harris”.  Yet moderate cuts to both the Ontario Corporate Tax Rate, and to Ontario Government spending (outside of healthcare and education), and new accountability rules for unions were key planks in Changebook.

    You claim to be in favour of the plan laid out by Changebook, yet you wholeheartedly oppose Changebook. Such hypocrisy!

    Furthermore, the election swung for the PC Party on the seats in the GTA – the PCs won the rest of the province; the Liberals bought the 416. NOTHING in what you suggest would have changed the outcome in the 416, but would most definitely have lost the PCs seats elsewhere in suburban Ontario.

    You need to reflect a little more before you comment further.

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

    Please sign your comments before you lob charges of hypocrisy.

    Please tell me where I endorsed Changebook.

    Also, one can be in favour of replacing McGuinty without a wholehearted endorsement of Changebook. We urged our NCC Ontario membership out to vote. We didn’t do it on Changebook.

    I will not hesitate to outline why Hudak’s team lost for lack of a clear conservative vision. This is my job.

    But I guess the problem is me.

  • Luke Nicholson

    Did you work for the Hudak campaign?  I think Stephen is bang on.  He tried to run a safe, front-runner campaign that didn’t offend anyone.  It didn’t work.  Ontarians wanted change, and Hudak offered them too much of the same thing.  Its too bad.  Ontario will suffer for it.

  • Luke Nicholson

    Did you work for the Hudak campaign?  I think Stephen is bang on.  He tried to run a safe, front-runner campaign that didn’t offend anyone.  It didn’t work.  Ontarians wanted change, and Hudak offered them too much of the same thing.  Its too bad.  Ontario will suffer for it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Burling/1189072249 Paul Burling

    Until the Hudak/Tory strategists embrace the Mike Harris years rather than distance themselves from it Liberals will keep power.

     Hudak had a fantastic chance to differentiate himself from McGuinty and instead either he or his advisors went with a don’t rock the boat approach instead.

  • real conservative

    In hogtown people are talking and McGuinty won by pandering to immigrants once again. (real conservative)

  • http://profiles.google.com/blaque.jacque.shallaque MIkhael Berry

    I guesd denial is not just a river in Egypt, but the modus operandi of the Hudak campaign and the PC Party of Ontario.  The future looks grim for conservatism in Ontario.

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

    Immigrants can’t vote. Only citizens can.

  • Calgary Junkie

    I didn’t like the sound of “Changebook”–it’s not a real word, and conservatives just don’t talk that way. Something like “The Right Track” works better for me, as I like the double meaning of the word “right”.

    Also, Hudak’s early outright opposition to the HST was a big mistake. A unified sales tax was a key part of Flaherty’s “Advantage Canada” program, introduced in the fall of 2007 (along with the goal of  a 15 % fed + 10 % prov corporate tax rate; a national securities regulator located in Toronto; labour mobility, etc). Hudak  should have embraced all those policies. Trying to ride a populist wave of opposition to the HST (as BC was doing) was insincere, and screamed opportunism. His later backtracking, eroded his credibility, and competence.

    Finally, he should have made all his promises over a FOUR YEAR PERIOD–that is the length of the mandate he was seeking from voters. Using a 7-year time frame to eliminate the deficit, was again un-conservative–way too long, and operating in a fantasy land.

  • Liz J

    Agree with you on the silly “Changebook” , we all remember the Liberal “Red Book” and how that unfolded, it became a joke. Just another example of the ineptitude of the whole PC team.

  • Anonymous

    Just think of all the gazebos the citizens could have enjoyed. Tragic really.

  • batb

    I, too, got the impression that the Hudak camp wanted to lose. This election was Hudak’s for the taking and he and his team blew it. He was AWOL, as far as I could see. I had no clear sense at all what he was about, except that he seemed to want to come across as “a nice guy.”

    No thanks. We needed a He** of a lot more than Mr. Nice Guy. We needed someone who was willing to take the spend-spend-spend bull by the horns and rassle it to the ground.

    I couldn’t help noting that on the night the provincial Tories lost the election, which should have been theirs for the taking, Mr. and Mrs. Hudak were far too jubilant at Mr. Hudak’s local win — “It’s good to be home!” There didn’t seem to be any genuine disappointment, which I found odd.

    As someone on the conservative side of the aisle I felt let down by Mr. Hudak and his campaign.

  • Anonymous

    What Hudak’s team failed to offer was change itself.

    I agree almost completely. Where I differ a bit is that the Hudak team didn’t just offer no change… they offered about nothing, in terms of real policy initiatives. And they skipped key events – they attended NOTHING to do with education.

    It simply wasn’t enough to campaign negatively on “I’m not McGuinty”, and the hypocritical crap on “taxman!” etc.

    As for the conservative hubris that pads out your post… well, the unravelling of Ford nation, and that hyped Toronto gravy train that has failed to arrive (no surprise, since it never existed, this confirmed by KPMG) should answer those points. It’s become clear that in Toronto at least, you can’t cut budgets without cutting services and programs, and nobody, not even conservatives, will knowingly elect someone whose real plan is to make things worse.

  • real conservative

    I can’t prove it but I’d bet my hide that the Liberals cheated big time in the GTA in order to pull out a victory. Add to that the lame campaign of the conservatives and NDP with the facile support of the media for dummy Dolton and we have another 2 to 3 years of massive government debt spending to enjoy. (real conservative)

  • Liz J

    Well yeah, only citizens can legitimately vote. The promise Smart Meter Man Dolton made to subsidize employers to the tune of $10,000 to hire new immigrants would cover immigrants who have been here just long enough to acquire citizenship. They would be voters. If they’re not yet citizens  they probably have sponsors or relatives who vote.

    It’s a fair assumption there were plenty of lies spewed around in the GTA about how bad the Conservatives would be, the terrible things they’d do etc, it’s  par for the course for Liberals.
    During an election campaign, telling lies about opponents and making promises you have no intention of keeping is cheating.  Dalton  knew all he needed to win was to slobber promises  over the GTA and presto we have Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Toronto.

  • northbaytrapper

    Sounds good Stephen.  I’d prefer lower income taxes to lower consumption taxes but that’s just me–your idea would be a more effective sell, however.
    We need to take back the legacy of Mike Harris.  His governments accomplished a lot under incredibly trying circumstances and he should be judged a success.  When lefties drop his name as a negative association, we need to be standing up to them and saying, “Thanks, he did a great job”.  35 billion in transfer cuts from Chretien and the mess left by Rae were both fixed by MH.

  • Leasa

    October 25, 2010. The House is prorogued so the Liberal Party can regroup after Dalton took a walk in the leaves to avoid scandals. Where’s Tim? Nothing’s changed. He praised McGuinty. He followed McGuinty on legislature and passed up several great opportunities to let his balls do the talking with conviction. Does he have any? I’m so frustrated over this. People are still saying ‘Tim Whodat?’