After close to five years in the post, Tim Hudak is stepping aside as leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives.
Hudak made the announcement Thursday night in the wake of a drubbing by the Liberals in a province-wide election that saw Kathleen Wynne leading a majority government.
With his wife Deb Hutton as his side, a crestfallen Hudak forced a meagre smile as he told supporters in Grimsby, “I am optimistic about our party’s future. But I will not be leading the Ontario PC party into the next election campaign.” Hudak’s resignation was greeted with a ripple of “no”s through the thin crowd.
Hudak plans to meet with the party caucus and executive in the next few days to figure out how to choose a successor. Hudak will stay on as leader until that process is complete. He will also continue to represent Niagara West-Glanbrook as an MPP.
Most people at PC election headquarters were skeptical Hudak’s decision to step aside was the right one. “Tim was a good man, I thought a lot of Tim”, said one supporter. “I thought Tim was great, would’ve loved to see him stay on”, said another.
Tony Kamphuis, who ran Hudak’s campaign in his home riding would have liked him to at least consult the party before stepping down. He says the role of leader takes time to grow into.
“I worry that as a party, we get into this pattern of looking for immediate gratification,” said Kamphuis. “Let’s toss it out and try something else, and will we ever make real progress in that way, I’m not sure.”
Most supporters said the news of Hudak’s departure was too fresh to even consider who could lead the party next. However, one man suggested deputy PC leader Christine Elliott, saying he admires her forthrightness.
Hudak called the campaign that ultimately led to his demise hard-fought and one he is proud of. Earlier in the day, he said he thought he had done well in the face of attacks on the math behind his Million Jobs Plan and his vow to cut 100,000 positions in the public sector.
A Win for Wynne
Ontario Liberal Budget to be re-introduced within 20 days
Horwath holds onto her seat in Hamilton