MPPs Frank Klees and Randy Hillier are touting a review as a democratic way of clearing the air and allowing Hudak to get on with the task at hand — defeating the minority Liberal government in an election expected by next spring.
Everybody in provincial politics likes to use the "the best indicator of future performance is past performance" line. So, let's look at the past performance of these two MPPs:
Frank Klees is an MPP with a history of looking out for Number One. He's run for leadership before and was no fan of John Tory.
Randy Hillier orchestrated the ousting of Norm Sterling, who had been one of the longest-serving and most respected MPPs in the House. Hillier did this to get his buddy Jack Maclaren into the Legislature. Hillier is also interested in the Party Leadership.
It's pretty clear what these gents are up to - they want Hudak gone to make space for their own perceived benefit. They are aggressively, competitively, even opportunistically promoting any openings that serve their interests.
Of course, Hudak should really be in favour of this approach - after all, it's the one he's been promoting with his anti-Union stance; people should be free of the encumbrance of collective bargaining, which is really what Political Parties are all about. Hillier and Klees are the epitome of what the Hudak Tories say they believe in.
This being politics and all, what the internal fighting amounts to is blood in the water for the other two established Parties, for a gaggle of stakeholder groups and, of course, for media looking for juicy stories. When everybody gets focused on political cannibalism, what loses focus are substantial issues (of which there are many) and shared solutions (desperately needed on fronts ranging from transit infrastructure to justice). Political planners fretting over what positions to take can focus on attacking opponents rather than the more challenging task of stretching their cognitive selves to reach the higher-hanging policy fruit.
You'd think Hudak (and folk like Hillier and Klees) would have learned their lesson from Mike Harris, who I hear tell is among the current Leader of the Opposition's advisers:
Former premier Mike Harris allowed his cabinet ministers to audition for his job, arguing he wanted people around him with ambition.
The internal arm-wrestling became so fierce, though, that in August 2001 the then-premier was forced to warn the over-eager leadership hopefuls that there would be two more cabinet shuffles and that they could be demoted if they didn’t cut it out.
For one, I wish that the Hudaks, Hilliers and Kleeses of the world would listen to folk like Peter Shurman, who I most often disagree with but have a great deal of respect for and John Yakabuski, who once honoured my grandfather in the Legislature. Every difference of opinion doesn't have to result in a pushing match; there is much to be gained through conversation, understanding and compromise.
As counter-intuitive as it may sound, I really want the PCs to be in the strongest position possible and focused on creative policy solutions; I want a competition of ideas between all Parties with an eye towards what's best for Ontario, rather than what serves partisan interests. Strength through diversity, etc.
I still find it hard to believe Hudak will ever be Premier; I've got my own thoughts on what I'd like to see happen at Queen's Park. This isn't about me, though, any more than it's about Hudak or his dissenting MPPs, or phantom menaces like Nick Kouvalis.
If Ontario's Political Parties and those who aspire to control them focus on cynically stabbing each other in the back, fostering grudges and feigning outrage at the kinds of shenanigans which have become business-as-usual across Canadian politics, then they have no place telling Private or Not-For-Profit sectors to pull together and collaborate over shared solutions.
That's a recipe for stagnation. Which is where we've been for far too long.
If any of us are serious about progressing beyond our political deadlock, especially as we start to lag behind competitor jurisdictions in areas like The Knowledge Economy, we have to take to heart the notion that forward together means leaving no one behind.
Including your competition.
I hope every individual PC takes this message to heart and start thinking about why they're involved in the first place. If you can't keep your own house in order, it doesn't give people a lot of confidence about what you can do with theirs.