The best advice I have for Tim Hudak is this: Watch out for the night of the long knives.
It’s not so much his failure to win last October’s election that’s his problem.
And he can almost be forgiven for losing long-time Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Elizabeth Witmer.
Losing her seat last week is more problematic, but it could be managed.
What has absolutely sealed his fate as someone who’ll never win government was his astounding reaction to Thursday’s votes.
In a statement the night of the byelection losses, Hudak said, in part: “Tonight’s result has shown that public sector unions from across Ontario were provided with the perfect opportunity to concentrate their resources and lash out against the wage freeze we’ve been consistently pushing.
“They bought Kitchener-Waterloo and now we can expect the rest of Ontario taxpayers to pay for it as the NDP cut more budget deals to keep the Liberals in power.”
He went on to say that McGuinty, “rolled the dice with an expensive appointment to trigger a byelection to try and gain his coveted majority.”
In a bizarre news conference Friday morning, Hudak maintained the combative tone, constantly referring to the way “union bosses” had targeted K-W, rolling in massive amounts of volunteers to work for the NDP.
Look, I understand his frustration.
He fought the so-called Working Families Coalition who pitched for the Liberals and against him in the last election. But this isn’t what you say after a byelection defeat.
It’s insulting to voters in K-W to suggest they’ve been “bought.”
It shows a petulance people don’t like.
Hudak should have taken the high road. He should have said voters have sent him a message and that he’ll study what they said and respond to their concerns.
Voters like to elect “big” people. Not physically big, but people who are magnanimous, who are gracious in victory — and defeat.
We want to be represented by statesmen, not by mealy-mouthed whiners.
And that’s how Hudak’s coming across right now — blaming everyone for the byelection defeat except himself.
There’s no doubt Hudak was up against it in the byelection.
Both the Liberals and the NDP poured vast amounts of resources into K-W. But that’s what politics is all about.
Instead of complaining about the strength of the other parties, Hudak should try galvanizing his own supporters and getting them behind him — preferably not with knives in their hands.
Hudak’s biggest problem now isn’t from the Liberals or NDP, it’s from people within his own party.
Before the byelection, he was starting to look and sound better than he did during the last election.
This bizarre response to the byelection will set him back once more and increases the grumbling and rumblings within the Tory ranks.
There are plenty of candidates for his job. Some are in the ranks of his own provincial MPPs. There are even more on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s backbenches in Ottawa.
Even Coun. Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s brother, has speculated about taking a run at the job.
Hudak’s problems have only just started. His lacklustre showing will make it difficult for him to raise money. If the cash dries up, he’ll have a big problem financing an election campaign that could come at any time.
I suspect there’ll be a snap vote soon. McGuinty has realized that voters aren’t stupid. They won’t be conned into giving him a majority.
He wants out and his party needs to rejuvenate.
There are several ways the premier could pull the plug: He could tell the Lieutenant-Gov. that this minority government is unmanageable and ask him to pull the plug. Or he could set up a confidence vote he knows he’ll lose.
One way or another, my guess is that by this time next year, we’ll have two new party leaders.