The curtain was lowered at the Ontario Progressive Conservative Convention in London, Ontario on Sunday afternoon. A few things stood out from the speeches and discussions between the delegates this weekend:
1) Tory delegates are very passionate about policy and governance. Multiple break out sessions were hosted by the PC caucus to review the white papers that will formulate the party’s platform in the next provincial election. Delegates were vocal in challenging the priorities and in some cases debating the wording of policies. During the constitutional session on Saturday afternoon, delegates debated the letter “s” in Robert’s Rules Of Order. Truly an exhibition of passion.
2) Doug Holyday was the party’s newest star and was given loud applause every time he was introduced or spoke. While the proposals for the GTA beyond transit seemed like a work in process, the delegates were positioning Holyday as the ‘great white hope’ to convince the 416 area code to return to the Tories.
3) The proposed amendment to the constitution that would have changed the rules around leadership reviews was defeated almost unanimously by the delegates. The PC caucus and delegate members who were handed a microphone during the convention all spoke of Tim Hudak’s strong leadership and his ability to lead the party into the next provincial election. It would seem at this point that the party is supporting Hudak.
4) The City of Detroit was mentioned several times during the speeches and it would be a shock if the reference was not made again between now and the next election. The bankruptcy of Detroit was used as a warning to where the province is heading under the Liberal government. Apparently the Tory focus groups have indicated that Detroit resonates better with voters than Greece.
5) Tim Hudak seemed comfortable in speaking to the delegates in the corridors and in his speeches, probably because Hudak comes across as a policy wonk (please see above). While the issue of Hudak’s “likability” with Ontario voters was raised by delegates in the open session on Saturday, it seemed that Hudak was trying too hard. A few of his attempts at humour fell flat. He needs to find a way to relax and avoid a smile that seems forced at times.
The Ontario PC Party and Tim Hudak should feel good about the weekend. They have started to formulate their platform for the next provincial election, the party is financially in good shape and questions about Hudak’s leadership within the party have been put to rest. Now it’s time for the real work. Hudak must now convince voters that it is indeed time for a change and that he can lead the province to deal with the difficult issues that it is facing. The curtain has fallen on the 2013 PC Convention but the next act is about to begin.