Anything But A Tory Majority

A  Commentary by NAL publisher Doug Draper

I’ve been thinking about whether Niagara At Large should join the rest of the media in endorsing one of the parties in this provincial election, and I have a hard time doing it.

Former Ontario premier Mike Harris leading on his student and the man he endorsed to take his crown, Tim Hudak

There are a couple of reasons for my reluctance to endorse one party over another. First of all, not much in this provincial election –the most boring one I can remember in my 32 years as a journalist covering these things – has turned my crank. And second, I remain fiercely non-partisan, as much as some readers have tried, over the years, to peg me as a Liberal or an NDP. I ascribe to the old line by Groucho Marx that ‘I would never want to belong to any group (in this case, a political party) that would have someone like me as a member.’

Yet there is something I can’t endorse on the eve of this Ontario election, and that is any idea of a Conservative majority government lead by one of former Tory premier Mike Harris’s favourite pets – Tim Hudak.

I feel a bit sad saying this in the sense that I’ve sat down with Tim Hudak, one-on-one, on about three or four occasions over the years and interviewed him via phone more often than that, and I can’t help but like him as an individual and be impressed by his sharp mind.

There is something that won’t go away for me though – his close association with Mike Harris, who supported his campaign for the leadership of the provincial Conservative Party a year and a half ago, and stood on the stage with him when he won.  Hudak’s wife, Deb Hutton, was also an operative for Harris, working in his office as a senior advisor while he was premier.
I couldn’t help thinking about that again recently while Tim Hudak was doing a campaign stop at a farmer’s market in downtown St. Catharines, holding his four-year-old daughter Miller in his arms. Miller is only about one year younger than my daughter Sarah was when she was starting kindergarten in this province back in 1995, the first year Harris was serving as premier and Hudak was one of his newly minted MPPs.

Harris, who’d taken, by many reports, a less than illustrious  shot at being at teacher himself, was now spouting  rhetoric that teachers in the province were, in so many words, overpaid and under-worked, and he immediately went to town cutting funding to schools.  And who suffered the most – the students. We watched our daughter’s opportunities to have decent school libraries, manageable class sizes, and even clean washrooms and hallways, evaporate before our eyes. We were constantly being asked to support “pizza days” at the school to purchase everything from basketballs to library books. That was the Harris/Hudak “common sense” solution to getting back at those overpaid/under-worked teachers, and the students were the ultimate victims.
We could go on and on. There was the  gutting of environmental programs and regulations that once put Ontario in the forefront of progressive change when it came to protecting and preserving our life-sustaining resources. And there was the war on people on any kind of social assistance. They were treated like cockroaches by the Harris/Hudak government.

The most disgusting case, and one that any civic-minded citizen in the province should feel ashamed of, is that of Kimberly Rogers, who died in the sweltering heat apartment in Sudbury, Ontario 10 years ago this August. Caught in a Mike Harris dragnet of wanting to nail ‘welfare cheats’, Kimberly Rogers was placed under six months of house arrest for simultaneously collecting welfare benefits and about $13,000 in student loans. For that, she and the baby she carried in side of her (she was eight months pregnant) died in an apartment where she had no relief from the heat and no food.

To this day, no remorse for the Kimberly Rogers case has been shown by Harris or anyone else who served in his government at the time, including Hudak. And where are the God-fearing rural voters Hudak connects with – those good Christian and Church of Christ people out there? Did they never care about the plight of this desperate young lady or was she just cheap white welfare trash?

One could go on to discuss the Harris government’s downloading of social and other services to local municipalities, that placed a higher burden on property taxes, while they bragged about cutting taxes at the provincial level.

For these and more reasons than I can discuss in a post that would run several thousand words if I continued, I hope and pray that we are not looking at tghe horror of a majority Conservative government a minute before midnight this October 6.

(Niagara At Large invites you to share your views on this post below. Remember that we won’t post your comment if you don’t have the courage to link your real first and last name to your comment, just as the author of this post threw out his name.)

14 responses to “Anything But A Tory Majority

  1. The idea of any majority Government is repugnant after watching McGuinty running rough shod the last eight years with no need for accountability.
    We need change to a Minority where a climate of compromise and reasonable negotiation will be of benefit to all….Any minority will do.


  2. I have always felt the Harris gang, was mean spirited when the first group they hit were the women on mothers’ allowance. That’s the reason I could never vote for Hudak.


    • I may be wrong, but weren’t women on Mother’s Allowance the one group that Harris EXEMPTED when he returned welfare to the rates before the NDP raised them?

      A small businessman in Port Colborne (also a local politician) with 4 children, tested the NDP rates and found that he & his family qualified for welfare! What would have happened to Ontario’s provinical debt if everyone who qualified had realised they did? Who pays the piper?


      • Angela Browne

        I just wish I had the income to “pay more to the piper”. Income tax cuts mean nothing to me, yet I am finding it harder and harder to afford even the minimal lifestyle that I have and I work 80 hours a week.


  3. Gail Benjafield

    Well put, Mr. Draper. One could not express the concern better.

    Like so many, I have no party affilaitation, but do vote every time, whether Federal, Provincial, Municipal. What worries me, more possibly than you, is that there is such a huge ‘disconnect’ (to use a cliche) with voters and issues. I have not received a Conservative party flyer through my mailbox, as have my neighbours, possibly because I am known as a ‘leftie’. Whatever. My neighbours tell me the Conservative party flyer in St. C. Riding has not one word of a platform, and is entirely personal. Do I know for sure? No, I don’t. But when we vote, do we not vote for the Party Platform that most expresses our interests? Unexpressed, how can one vote intelligently?


    • Excellent point Gail.

      Remember the ‘Leaders Debate Analysis’ here on NAL which discussed only emotional issues and nothing of policy…?


  4. I’d like to write something terribly erudite regarding the prospects of a provincial Conservative government, but all I can come up with was a slogan I saw on a sign in the UK many years ago: “…the only good Tory is a suppository…” that just about sums it up for me.


  5. Brigitte Bonner

    Doug, you are 100% correct (again). If Mikey Jr. wins, we are all in for alot of trouble. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this doesn’t happen.


  6. Doug
    You cannot tar someone with another ones brush. If I thought that was right I would say:
    Horwath will destroy the province because she is associated with Bob Ray
    Hudak will destroy the province because he is associated with Mike Harris and both of these statements would be as ridiculous as saying another McGuinty government will not be the same as the last one.
    The whole system is flawed – that’s what must be changed to stop this nonsense we go through with every government we elect – no matter which one it is.


  7. Not having lived here long enough to know the Harris horror, all I can contribute is that I finally after 7 years in Canada I am allowed to vote and it will certainly be simple as abc (anything but conservative).


  8. It’s disconcerting. I like Bradley, but I don’t like his government. I like Hudak but can’t vote for him personally. Our old buddy Booty talked me into a couple of political bets years ago, one federal and one local. I lost both times so my record of predictions is terrible. Maybe I can put a hex on the Liberals by predicting a Liberal majority.


  9. For many years I rejected the idea of party affiliation but this election i bit the bullet and payed the fee to have a say …Well much to my consternation it did not matter…chuckle so I took this aging body down to the advanced polling station held my nose and voted..May the God be gentle and give us a Minority government one that to some degree can be controlled we have had enough emperors and clowns………amen


  10. As the author of this report, I wish to respond to one of the comments above by saying that the situation between Hudak and Harris and Horwath and Rae are far from the same. Harris is standing up for Hudak in this election. Rae is not standing up for Horwath.
    It might come as a surprise to the above commenter, but Rae gave up on the NDP years ago and is now the interim leader of the federal Liberal Party.
    Harris, on the other hand, fully supports Hudak’s candidacy and so do many of Harris’s former cabinet colleagues, including Jim Flaherty, the current finance minister for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. So the circumstances are certainly somewhat different.


  11. Yep, like many I voted ABC. Hudak means cuts, cuts, cuts and more cuts, which to me, means MORE money out of my pocket to pay for services that used to be covered. I am not made of money, Hudak. Until good paying jobs are more easily obtained by even well educated persons like myself, it is no to the Conservative cuts.


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