The knives are out.Tim Hudak's days as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party are numbered. Bob Hepburn writes in The Toronto Star:
In the wake of disappointing losses in four of the five byelections last week, now comes news that Hudak is facing a new open revolt within his party, with two separate calls for a leadership review by groups of Tory activists furious over the party’s poor showing.
If the calls succeed, Hudak could be dumped as leader at the party’s convention set for Sept. 20-22.
Such an outcome is unlikely because it’s almost impossible to rewrite party rules overnight, which the two motions to be pursued during the convention are trying to do. Currently, a leadership review can be held only after an election, and Hudak easily survived such a review after the 2011 vote.
So don't expect Hudak to make a quick exit. But the natives are clearly restless:
In the coming weeks, Hudak must deal with the latest blows to his leadership or face certain electoral defeat. Among them:
Mounting anger over the party’s miserable byelection results. With the Liberals supposedly reeling from the scandal over the $585 million in fees to cancel two gas plants, Hudak was confident of major gains in all five ridings. Instead, it was the NDP that made big gains, with the Tories winning only in Etobicoke-Lakeshore where Toronto deputy mayor Doug Holyday used his personal popularity and the political machine of Mayor Rob Ford to win
Continuing voter rejection, with Hudak ranked dead last in personal approval ratings of just 27 per cent. He trails both NDP Leader Andrea Horwath (43 per cent) and Premier Kathleen Wynne (35 per cent), according to a Forum Research poll released last week.
Increasing alienation among progressive party members fed up with Hudak’s deliberate move to re-introduce the controversial hard-right policies of former premier Mike Harris.
The Harris vision no longer sells in Ontario. Ontarians don't view his time as premier as the good old days. Hudak failed to see that truth. However, if Hudak goes, Rob and Doug Ford are waiting in the wings. Getting rid of Hudak may only be the first of many nasty turns for Ontario Conservatives.
For now, Mr. Hudak probably isn't sleeping well. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.