By Mike Williscraft
The evening of June 12 was a difficult night for Tim Hudak.
He was definitively re-elected as Niagara West-Glanbrook’s MPP, but the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party was handed a resounding defeat on a province-wide scale.
In his political life, Hudak has seen it all.
He has been on the side of power in Mike Harris’ government. He was first elected in Niagara South. He has seen his riding dissolve (the old Erie-Lincoln Riding) only be re-relected in the new Niagara West-Glanbrook Riding. He has been an MPP since 1995 when he was elected as a 27-year-old.
Now 46, Hudak has announced July 2 will be his last day as leader of the PC Party.
He said on election night has repeated since that he will remain as MPP for the Riding.
Armed with a battery of Liberal missteps and scandals, Hudak waded into his second election as leader full of optimism and fight.
His message during his concession speech on election night pointed to the Liberal’s attempt, apparently successful, to divert voters’ attention away from the Liberal track record and direct it at what they deemed the negative points of the PC platform.
“There has been an overwhelming negativity and far too much anger, particularly from the Liberals, but also the NDP and that’s not going to bring a single job back,” Hudak told those on hand.
No doubt, jobs was a focal point for the campaign.
Hudak jumped out early, determined to set the agenda, and did so with his plan to create one million jobs, which included reducing 100,000 public sector jobs along the way.
Despite Hudak’s contention that those jobs would be cut via attrition and softer ways of reducing the government payroll, the Liberals pounded away describing Hudak’s plan to “fire” employees.
“I believe my message of hope will trump their campaign of fear and negativity,” Hudak noted.
He thanked his family –– wife Deb Hutton and daughters Miller, 6, and newborn Maitland –– for their support and understanding during the long campaign.
His decision to resign July 2 was his wish to step out of leadership sooner than later, but PC officials have opted to hold a leadership convention later this year. Caucus members said they wanted a longer leadership campaign.