Tim Hudak is the clear undisputed loser of Thursday's byelections in the province of Ontario.
Out of the five byelections, the Liberals and New Democrats each won two seats, while Hudak's Tories won just one — in Etobicoke-Lakeshore — on the back of their very popular local candidate, deputy Toronto Mayor Doug Holyday.
As Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition — the government in waiting, if you will — the Tories were expected to do much better.
After all, the minority Liberal government has been in power since 2003 and continues to be mired in a gas plant scandal which cost taxpayers over half a billion dollars.
On Thursday night, Hudak tried to accentuate the positive.
"It is thrilling to win our first seat in the city of Toronto since 1999," he said at the victory party of Holyday.
"More (seats) to come for the PCs here in the City of Toronto."
But really, there's not a lot of positive in Thursday's byelection results and hardly any during Hudak's reign as leader.
Once again Hudak has proven that he can't get the job done.
More on the Ontario byelections:
A review of his past two years as leader isn't very pretty:
Two years ago — just 12 weeks before the October 6, 2011 election — the polls suggested that he had a double digit lead over Dalton McGuinty's Liberals. After a long campaign, he wasn't able to convince Ontarians that he was 'premier material', wasn't able to dislodge a tired old government and only ended up wining 37 seats and earning 35 per cent of the popular vote.
Fast forward to Budget 2012. Without even reviewing the financial document, Tories vowed to vote against it. That 'strategy' left Hudak on the sidelines while Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath negotiated with the Liberals, won some concessions and attracted the media spotlight.
In late 2012, then-premier Dalton McGuinty orchestrated two byelections in order to put an end to a dysfunctional minority legislature?
McGuinty failed — the Liberals won in Vaughn but lost in Kitchener-Waterloo to the NDP candidate Catherine Fife.
Hudak also failed by not winning a seat.
At the time, the Toronto Sun's Christina Blizzard even suggested that "the two byelections could turn into bye-bye elections" for Hudak.
"[The results] reflect poorly on Hudak's ability to unite the party," she wrote.
"Coming hard on the heels of his inability to win last fall's general election, it raised serious questions about his leadership and caused grumblings within the ranks."
See Budget 2012 above (Hudak employed the exact same strategy).
Not all of the above is Hudak's fault.
But as leader, he has to wear it.
Prior to the results being announced, CBC provincial affairs specialist Robert Fisher said Thursday's byelections were important for the PC leader.
"He's been fighting this internecine warfare from within his own caucus — people not necessarily happy with the fact that in the last general election, he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory," Fisher said, adding that it could reaffirm him as man who can get results for the party.
It's now abundantly clear that he can't get results.
At this point, if Hudak doesn't exit through that proverbial door, he needs to be pushed.
Twitter reaction to Hudak:
It really is time for Hudak to go. PCs can't win power under him.
— Michael Coren (@michaelcoren) August 2, 2013
Byelection Olympics: Horwath's gets gold, Wynne gets silver and Hudak starts eyeing the exits. #onpoli
— Warren Kinsella (@kinsellawarren) August 2, 2013
Funny how Hudak doesn't lose any seats and is declared the loser. Hello? Liberals lost three.
— Christina Blizzard (@chrizblizz) August 2, 2013
So looks like Libs still bleeding, but NDP, not PCs, are positioned to make gains. When does Doug Ford start campaigning for Hudak's job? — mark d. jarvis (@markdjarvis) August 2, 2013
(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)
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