John Baird comes to defence of old friend, Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak

Andy Radia
·Politics Reporter

It's been said that when you face a crisis, you know who your true friends are.

Well, it looks like Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is a 'true friend' of Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak.

In a telephone interview with the Globe and Mail on Thursday, Baird came to the defence of Hudak, who is facing calls for a leadership review after his party's poor showing in a series of byelections last week.

[ Related: The biggest loser of Ontario’s byelections: PC leader Tim Hudak ]

"We’ve got to stay focused on who the real enemy is, and that’s bloated government, big deficits and lagging employment numbers in Ontario. Tim is the one to tackle those, and now is not the time to be inward-looking," Baird, who served as a MPP alongside Hudak from 1995 to 2005, told the Globe.

"They say you don’t know someone until you’ve walked a thousand miles in their shoes. Well, I’ve walked a thousand miles with this guy – at caucus meetings, cabinet meetings, when we were fighting the good fight to bring change. He’s an experienced leader who has the capacity to deliver."

Hudak is up against two separate movements to force a leadership review at a PC party meeting next month.

Earlier this week, the Toronto Sun reported that "ten London-area Tory party members have signed a motion to amend the PC party constitution to allow for a leadership vote to take place." The Sun claims that as many as five caucus members support the motion.

[ Related: Call for Tim Hudak leadership review could come as early as next month: report ]

And, on Wednesday, a senior Tory caucus member, publicly urged Hudak to accept the will of the party faithful.

"If you're afraid of what the members are going to say, what does that say about a general election and the general public," Tory MPP Frank Klees said, according to CBC News.

"The worst thing you can do is to suppress the opinion of the grass roots.

"Let them express themselves, and I really think the best way to deal with this is to get ahead of the issue, preempt any disgruntlement that may well build up."

[ Related: Is Doug Ford making a play for Tim Hudak’s job? ]

Hudak has been on vacation this week and hasn't responded to interview requests, about the so-called 'revolt', from Yahoo! Canada News or other news organizations.

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