It's back to the past, no future here, for the Ontario Tories.
Tim Hudak's ascension to the throne of the troubled Big Blue Machine (just blue for the better part of the last decade) is no new beginning for the party.
More like a big step backwards to the bad old daze of the divide and conquer politics of Mike Harris. You all remember Iron Mike don't you?
The tax-cutting, Common Nonsense revolutionary who downloaded services on the city to balance the provincial budget, and left the province in debt? Then you'll also remember that he exited office under the dark cloud of scandal for his role in the death of native protestor Dudley George at Ipperwash Park.
Many lies would be told to cover up the government's involvement, including at the inquiry that followed years later. Did Harris order the OPP in? It depends which former cabinet minister you ask.
Hudak wasn't directly involved in that whole sorry episode. But his views on native land claims are not dissimilar.
Indeed. Hudak tacks so far right on the issues that he's shared common cause with some scary groups in his day, including the fringe white-rights outfit Voice of Canada over the native occupation of Caledonia.
What does it say about his politics that Hudak made the abolition of human rights tribunals, not the economy, not the lose of manufacturing jobs, the defining plank in his leadership platform? To whom is he speaking? Muslims? The "middle-class" he purports to be defending?
Check the list of angry white men in federal Tory party ranks that Hudak counts among his supporters: there's MP Peter "As Nasty As I Want To Be" Van Loan, hysteria-prone immigration minister Jason Kenney (a real charmer), maximum minimum sentencing justice minister Rob Nicholson, John "Fuck Toronto" Baird.
And, of course, the aforementioned Mike Harris, whom Hudak counts as personal friend and singled out in his acceptance speech. (Harris's stepdaughter babysits Hudak's 20-month-old).
It's clear Harris will have a lot of influence over Hudak, which has the potential of raising all kinds of conflict questions given Harris's directorships on several corporate boards.
What's not as clear is how much say Hudak's wife, former Harris chief of staff Deb Hutton, a stay-at-home mom these days, will have on the political affairs of the Tory party now that her husband's king. If Hutton's rep for being hands-on holds (not-so-lovingly referred to by her critics as the most hated person at Queen's Park when she was there), then things can get ugly real fast under Hudak. Right on cue, his warning in the papers this morning to public sector unions currently on strike in Toronto: "get a grip." Yes, Hudak learned a few things about labour relations as a former WalMart exec.
That Hudak managed to win the Tory leadership speaks ill of the party and where it's headed.
Like its Reform-dominated cousins in Ottawa, the Ontario Tories have become a rump, with little support or visibility outside rural Ontario.
Harris's testy tenure helped in that regard. It was his divisive policies that ended up alienating everyone but the most conservative voters.
Hudak's not going to change the Tories' fortunes by taking the party further to the right.
A huge number of the party's own members, the red Tories who support former leader John Tory, the so-called progressives who ran the show during the party's 42-year domination of Ontario politics, may end up deserting the ranks.
Already there are signs. Of the 43,000-plus in the party, a little more than half, some 25,000 bothered casting a vote in this weekend's leadership contest.
The only candidate able to sign new members in any significant numbers, Frank Klees, had to troll the ranks of Christian fundamentalists.
The new members Klees was able to sign from ethnic ranks actually failed to vote in large numbers in the leadership, scared off, apparently, by a hoax mailer sent to them before the balloting about the RCMP probing possible voter fraud. The OPP's been asked to investigate.
No one's pointing the finger at the Hudak camp, although his campaign wasn't shy about accusing the Klees group of push polling. (A hearing of the party executive dismissed the charge).
But it's clear some in the Tory party are hostile to ethnic minorities among their ranks.
Talk about a party living in the past.