“We made a decision — and I take responsibility, I am the leader of the party — we decided to play safe, not to lose, and we ended up doing so. It was a campaign focused on saying what’s wrong with the other path without saying clearly what our alternative was going to be.”
So Mr Hudak, why did it take you a year to apologize for what happened? Quite a few of us spent the whole of 2011 practically screaming at you to say something substantive. We harangued you to speak and act like a conservative. Again and again you were told that in order to win power as a right of center politician you needed to be about something, not merely against someone. The Liberal Party can coast on its image of ersatz compassion and ethnic vote bribery. The Tories need to project a vision of the future of Ontario. You didn't do that. Not even close.
But you ignored us. The mouth breathing, knuckling dragging and unreconstructed Harrisites that you pandered to in the leadership campaign and then betrayed once elected. Ah, you were a professional politician and we were just crazy fanatics, unaware that "Ontario had changed" and we needed to change with it. You and your clever friends in the party HQ looked down on us ordinary right-wing folks, so crude and unsophisticated. We told you that defeat would be the reward for cowardice.
On behalf of many millions of my fellow Ontarians: We Told You So!
Now the Ken Doll of Ontario politics wants a second chance. He's promising that this time he'll be about something. He won't just wait for the Liberals to implode under the weight of their own lies and incompetence. No, he'll actually campaign! Perhaps, if he is feeling really frisky, as an actual conservative. Not just the pretend-Tory who mutters silly nonsense about chain gangs cleaning streets. He even vows to take on the public sector unions.
John Tory said the same thing after 2007. He failed to deliver. I don't have much hope for Timmy Hudak.
Dalton McGuinty was the lamest of lame duck premiers. This should have been an easy campaign. Remind the voters of what a lying spendthrift buffoon this guy has been, then present Ontarians with a moderate conservative vision for the future. Nothing too radical. Just a gradual reduction in spending to keep it in line with inflation, some red tap cutting and killing the Green energy boondoggles. You didn't even have to go that far to the Right. Just a gentle lean.
But you didn't.
The problem here is not so much Timmy Hudak himself, it's the phenomenon of the career politician. The bright young thing who goes into politics at twenty-two and expects to start collecting a pension before they hit fifty. They know nothing beyond the game. They are terrified of the real world and its deadlines and objective metrics. Having talked their way into a decent income and minor fame, they loath the idea of going into the obscurity and irrelevance of private life. Delivering a power point presentation doesn't have the same adrenaline rush as fighting through a media scrum.
In order to win you need to take risks. That includes the real possibility of losing. Can Timmy bear to lose? That's the question he needs to ask himself. If he can't bear losing, he won't have a chance of winning. Should he lose again more than his political career will be toast.