A couple of weeks ago, before Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned, I opined on these pages that the wise policy for Progressive Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak would be to let Dalton McGuinty stew in his own juices now that he has run out of other people’s money. After Monday evening’s surprise resignation, do I still think that’s good advice?
Yes. More than ever.
As I noted back then, the most important thing for the provincial conservatives is to change the political dynamic that has been dominant in the province in the past two decades: the Liberals (or NDP) spends money with wild abandon until the money runs out and their public sector union allies turn on them; the PC’s get elected and proceed to do all the heavy lifting to get the provinces finances are in order; but as soon as the budget has been balanced and the fiscal pressure is off, the public re-elects the left because they are tired of hearing the word ‘no’. As a result, the Conservatives have become in the public’s mind the dour, negative party and the Liberals (or NDP) the up-beat, good-time party. To have stable conservative majorities, this perception must change.
The best way to do that is to show the public that Liberal spending has serious consequences, that budget balancing is not just something sadistic conservatives dream up; but that it is, like a hangover after a good drunk, an unpleasant signpost on the road to sobriety. The way to demonstrate that to the voters is to let the Liberals struggle with their own mess for a while. The political damage they will be forced to do to themselves because the difficult decisions can no longer be put off will pay off in spades. Fate has presented Hudak with the opportunity to do to the Provincial Liberals what Stephen Harper did to the Federal Liberals.
Right now, there is a headless chicken in the pot. All Hudak has to do is to watch it boil.