Congratulations to Tim Hudak on receiving the confidence of the party membership. Congratulations to Richard Ciano on his victory. Congratulations to the PC Party of Ontario executive.
Our convention in Niagara Falls was a mature affair where we confronted the hard reality of our loss and our mistakes, and vowed to do better next time. I was legitimately worried that we were going to have a repeat of the AGM following the 2007 loss, where anger overwhelmed everything and the party was left traumatized for months. But we didn't go down that road again. We vowed to move on and not repeat our mistakes anymore, and for my part, I felt very proud of Tim for sharing his real feelings with the assembled members. Now, he has to do the same for the rest of Ontario.
Richard Ciano and his people effectively masterminded a Party President election that had the potential to turn ugly. The candidates and their supporters were all respectful, and in stark contrast to the dirt-kicking federal Liberal effort of last month that saw Mike Crawley win by a whopping 26 votes, Ciano captured a large mandate from the floor and channeled the grassroots' desire for change effectively. By doing that, we conclusively proved that we are not the federal Liberals, and I give Ciano credit for helping us make that distinction. He has a tough task ahead of him, and I'm willing to help if he'll let me.
Kevin Gaudet, who I supported and who I will continue to support in his efforts to become an MPP in this party, provided us all with a demonstration of how the real Tim Hudak might come through better to voters. Without the resources of the Ciano campaign or the name recognition of John Snobelen, he managed to sway many more voters to him than would have been otherwise expected. He did this by projecting complete authenticity and acting on his desire to shake things up in the PC Party of Ontario instead of just talking about it. He criticized Hudak for making mistakes, but made it clear that his criticism was meant to help Tim do better, not to tear him down. By doing this, he won the support of almost 1 out of every 5 PC Party voters. All conservatives who are concerned about how to connect with voters would do well to follow Kevin's example.
John Snobelen deserves credit for the positive campaign he ran and for introducing a motion to have regular meetings of the President's Council. He impressed me the most by speaking to the crowd on the morning of the vote alone on stage, without notes. He's got a lot to teach us about our party and how to resolutely defend conservatism, and I hope he will keep on doing just that.
But I'm not going to pretend that everything is sunshine and roses.
20% of the people who came down to Niagara Falls voted for a leadership review despite the real contrition shown by Tim Hudak and the vocal support given to him by all three candidates for President. Nothing anyone did or said could dissuade those voters. And despite my criticism of the anti-Hudak forces within the party over the past few months, I've got to give that 20% credit for having the guts to vocalize their discontent appropriately and letting the party know that they have to work even harder to earn back their confidence. Now, those 20% must accept that Hudak is going to lead the party into the next election. And they must accept that a Hudak-led PC Party of Ontario is the only choice to defeat McGuinty next time around.
We've also got to do something to shake the perception that we are obsessed with the short term fix that will boot McGuinty out and boot us in. The Drummond report will be released shortly, and just like I predicted weeks ago, it's looking like Dalton's going to take a big ol' pass on most of what's going to be on offer. That's taking the path of least resistance, something Dalton does well. We'd better not do the same.
Finally, it is time to develop an organized information-collection strategy to get the dirt on Dalton, his caucus, his advisors, his union friends, and the chessmasters who think they can't be touched because they're so, so smooth. I know those chessmasters dislike the federal Conservative Resource Group, because they tell us so. We need a group like the CRG if we are ever going to form government. I haven't bagged any big-name Liberals just yet, because all I have is my blog, but I do OK for myself. I've had discussions with those people in the PC Party who share this interest. I hope they will make use of my skills.
Get down to business. Everyone. Now.