If you closed your eyes while listening to Tim Hudak, you would swear it was Mike Harris when he was younger. Same rhetorical nonsense. Tough on crime. Lower wages for public servants. Allow police to manhandle Native protesters. Been there, done that.
Ontario cannot afford another Mike Harris.
That doesn't mean we should condone the actions of the McGuinty government, but Hudak is dead wrong on the HST. It's a political game, nothing more. Even most in his own party support the HST, they just no longer say that publicly. And let's not forget that MPP Christine Elliot is married to Jim Flaherty, the man who bribed the provinces to adopt the HST in the first place.
And remember, the vote in Parliament only paves the way for the provinces to be allowed to adopt their own tax measures. Harper set them up.
However, while Hudak opposes Native protests, he turned the Ontario legislature into a romper room, while clearly losing the control of his caucus. The provincial Conservatives chose the wrong leader, because the veterans have already turned their backs on him.
Coyle: Hudak and the Tory sit-in bring to mind Wile E. Coyote
By Jim Coyle Queen's Park
December 7, 2009
How many classic cartoons were based on the premise of the perennially hapless hunter – Elmer Fudd tracking Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote chasing Road Runner – caught in booby-traps of their own making?
The Law of Unintended Consequences is often good for a laugh. Around Queen's Park last week it provided lots of food for thought.
For novice PC Leader Tim Hudak, his party's protest over the Liberal government's proposed harmonized sales tax produced a couple of unforeseen outcomes.
The first was his own loss of face when a caucus member apparently defied the boss's wishes in a stunt that spun out of control.
By most accounts, the sit-in that saw two PC members expelled indefinitely from the Legislature was intended to involve only Owen Sound-area MPP Bill Murdoch.
As it unfolded, eastern Ontario MPP Randy Hillier hopped aboard, apparently ignoring instructions from caucus elders that he leave the Legislature when ejected by Speaker Steve Peters.
Hillier's defiance of not just the Speaker but his own leadership raised embarrassing questions as to who was running the PC show.
Worse for Hudak were the justifications he offered once the standoff ended for why his MPPs flouted Legislature rules, blatantly defied the Speaker, and usurped the seats of other members.
Hudak said that, irrespective of rules, sometimes "extraordinary measures" are warranted. With that utterance he undercut his own law-and-order positioning and his credibility on long-running issues of civil disobedience.
What Hudak essentially did was give licence to civil disobedience any time anyone feels sufficiently aggrieved to arbitrarily take "extraordinary measures."
How will he stand, for instance, against any future native highway blockades in support of land claims? How can he say his right to extraordinary measures trumps anyone else's?
How can he go to Caledonia, say, and denounce native blockades and occupations there that his own caucus members have long railed against but, in essence, mimicked?
The ominous message of the PC protest was that might makes right. One of the remarkable scenes when the protest began was the way in which several of the larger male MPPs surrounded Murdoch to prevent the sergeant-at-arms from removing him.
Beside Murdoch as a self-described blocker was Toby Barrett, the MPP from Haldimand-Norfolk who has complained bitterly about the native protests at Caledonia.
By this act, Barrett disqualified himself as a credible opponent of anyone else's blockade. And as the Murdoch-Hillier siege played out, the PC caucus disqualified itself as a critic of anyone else's occupation.
Apparently trying to provoke their physical ouster, Murdoch and Hillier later occupied seats other than their own – seats to which they hadn't been elected, seats to which the elected MPPs were denied access, thereby unable to vote on legislation, robbing electors in those ridings of their voice.
As affronts to the parliamentary system go, this was fundamental.
Yet Hudak called it "fighting the good fight." If so, it was the sort of good fight that must have been designed by the Acme Co. that produced the explosives so favoured by Wile E. Coyote – and which invariably blew up in his own face.
In the end, the only useful "unintended consequence" for Hudak was that, whereas once he owed Hillier for his support in winning the leadership, he owes him nothing anymore.
Hillier cashed in whatever chit he held. And, by thumbing his nose at the leader, probably cashed in any chance he had for a place of influence should Hudak ever form a government.