Ontario’s ‘Tiny Tim’ will soldier on.

Ontario’s Provincial Conservatives have a chance to dump their leader Tim Hudak at their meeting today in Niagara Falls. As there is no immediate replacement available, they probably will not bother. It would be a foolish move anyway. Despite his lack of political smarts that led to his loss to the McGuinty Whigs, there is a tradition among Tories that if you win some more seats you get a second chance to win it all.

Tiny Tim’s role model and mentor is former Premier Mike Harris. Unlike Hudak, Harris never tried to tell us he was smart. He posed as ‘The Tax Fighter’ in the 1990 provincial election and watched Bob Rae’s New Democrats win the election. Harris made a comeback with his ‘Common Sense Revolution’ after Rae had lost the bulk of his union support, five years later. Rae practically handed Ontario to Harris on a platter.

Despite all the gaffs Dalton McGuinty and his Liberals made in the 2011 provincial general election, Hudak could not capitalize on the lead he had in the polls. Voters started paying attention to him during the campaign and he came across to them as callow and stilted with his parroted right-wing pitch. If Andrea Horwath and her handlers had been able to better understand the dynamics of that election,Ontario would now have its second ever NDP government.

But for both Tiny Tim and Andrea, the next provincial election will be do or die. Their main problem is to not force the election too soon. All the political parties have to pay their election debts and build some reserves before anyone wants an election. Since neither of the opposition parties want to give the other too much leverage, the forcing of an election is an intricate dance. In 2015, the Liberals will be committed to an October election and their best bet will be to have a new leader in place well before then.

A new Liberal leader is not the only change that voters need. Much depends on whether the party can come up with a jobs-oriented economic plan that makes sense to the voters. Ontario has lost too many of its manufacturing jobs for a full recovery and the federal Conservative’s emphasis on supporting our western resource base is not going to help.

If the Ontario Liberals were really smart—which might be wishful thinking—they would be doing the critical planning now. If the party had a new leader in place by the spring of 2014 and an action plan ready for the fall of that year, they would have an opportunity to win a snap election.

They would need a good rationale for the action but they could, in effect, run against Prime Minister Harper and his Conservatives. The best thing to do with Tiny Tim at this juncture would be to ignore him. And a strong job-creation action plan would look after Mrs. Horwath.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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