Trickle-Down Tim: Hudak, in his own words – By Dave Meslin
First Nations, First Past The Post, Greenbelt, Guy Giorno, Hansard, Health Care, Josh Matlow, Land Transfer Tax, Minimum Wage, NDP, Ontario, Peter Kormos, Progressive Conservatives, Tim Hudak, Tories, War on the car
Although the media virtually ignored it, there was a Leadership Convention this week for the provincial Conservative party (I know they’re officially called the ‘Progressive’ Conservatives, but really…). The new leader is Tim Hudak and, statistically speaking, he has a pretty good chance of being our next Premier (in 2011 or 2015)*. So, shouldn’t we start learning about this guy? Tories come in many stripes, you know?
I first heard of Tim Hudak in 2006, and actually became a fan. I was organising against the “four year term” proposal which had been hidden in a provincial budget bill and threatened to erode our municipal democracy by (further) reducing the frequency of elections in Toronto. I put together a multi-partisan team (including Liberal Josh Matlow and Tory Guy Giorno) to oppose the change. We built a website , wrote an op-ed , and made deputations at Queen’s Park. Tim Hudak was a big supporter of our cause and was quite helpful with the campaign. So I liked him. Curiously enough, Hudak once mentioned me in the Legislature. I believe it’s the only time that I appear in the official “Hansard” document at Queen’s Park. He was questioning John Gerretsen, about the four year term.
Mr. Tim Hudak: Councillor Walker in the city of Toronto has raised this as a concern, as have other municipal leaders.
Mr. Peter Kormos: Guy Giorno.
Mr. Hudak: Certainly my friend Guy Giorno has had some concerns that he’s expressed in the media.
Mr. Kormos: Josh Matlow.
Mr. Hudak: Josh Matlow, who has been — he was one of you fellows for a while, wasn’t he?
Mr. Kormos: And David Meslin, a young New Democrat.
Mr. Hudak: David Meslin, the young New Democrat — is he a councillor? No, I just recognize the name.
Mr. Kormos: An NDP activist.
Mr. Hudak: Anyway, there’s a quality group of individuals of all three political stripes who say, “Why don’t we put that bill forward for debate in the Legislature and for public consultation?”
Haha. “Is he a Councillor?” I totally forgot about that whole thing, but just found it today while searching for “Hudak” on my hard drive. So him and I have a deep connection.
Anyway, I thought I would compile a video for Mez Dispenser that briefly summarized Tim Hudak, so we can all get to know him a little better. And what’s the best way to find out what a politician thinks? Not by listening to their public speeches, but by listening to the speeches that they give to their own party. I know that New Democrats, for example, are much more likely to use the word ‘socialist’ when they are talking to the New Democratic Youth, then when they are on the Michael Coren show or at a community picnic. So I dug up some footage from the recent Conservative leadership debates and edited a short collage of clips related to issues that I know my friends and readers care about.
I was surprised at how hard-right he was. No balanced approach at all. All right, all the time. Good ol’ Reagan/Mulroney/Harris, trickle-down, small-government conservatism. What a blast from the past.
• He mentions the “war on the car” and wades into Toronto’s transportation planning by criticising the Jarvis Street re-design. Come on Tim, the drivers still have FOUR lanes! Don’t you believe in sharing?
• He takes a really hard stand against First Nations land occupations. I was really surprised. Everyone knows that Ipperwash was recently given back to its rightful owner: the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. And everyone knows that this never would have happened without direct action by the protestors. And everyone knows what happened when the province decided to ‘get tough’. Hudak makes no reference to any of this, and discusses the protesters as if they are just a bunch of hoodlums trying to make trouble. I found that disturbing.
• I was surprised that Hudak would outright lie about the Greenbelt process. He states that the GreenBelt “ripped away property rights from landowners”. What a load of crap. This argument was used during the public consultation. It was a lie then, and it’s a lie now. The Greenbelt legislation prevents suburban growth on agricultural and environmentally sensitive land. This upsets a lot of farmers who were hoping to sell their land to developers and pull in a decent retirement ‘bonus’. The thing is, land speculation isn’t a ‘right’. When you own land you have the right to use that land, or to sell it. The Greenbelt doesn’t take away anyone’s right to own their land, to farm on their land, or to sell their land – as a farm. The funny part of the consultations was when these farmers stood up and said “You should respect our views! We’re the ones who put food on your table”. But then in the next breath, they would say “How dare you take away my right to turn my farm into a subdivision?”. You can’t have it both way folks. Are you farmers, or speculators? If we want ‘food on our table’ shouldn’t we protect our farmland?
• He lies about the Land Transfer Tax . The new revenue tool has been important for municipalities to fund services and infrastructure. He claims on many occasions that the tax will prevent people from buying their first home. Not true. There is a rebate for first-time buyers. I was amused at his repeated assertion that home ownership is a “Canadian value.” Yeah, tell that to the millions earning minimum wage. (Good segue to…)
• He wants to freeze the minimum wage because it’s the highest of all the provinces. But he doesn’t mention that Toronto is the most expensive major Canadian city to live in, so minimum incomes need to be higher .
• Hudak doesn’t seem to be a fan of green energy . He refers to it as “so-called green energy” or “pie in the sky” ideas. He thinks nuclear power is the way to go because it’s affordable, clean and reliable. Actually, it isn’t any of those things. Ironically, as I was editing the video footage this afternoon the news was reporting that the Liberals are slowing down their nuclear plans because it’s “too expensive”.
• When talking about crime, he singles out “grow-ops ” as a major problem in Ontario. He wants to confiscate all of the dangerous equipment and have harsher penalties for these ‘ilicit activities’. Dude, it’s pot. I’ll bet half the Tory caucus has smoked pot. I’ll bet all of the Liberal caucus has smoked pot. And I’ll bet half the NDP caucus is smoking pot right now. Here’s an idea: why don’t we legalise maijuana production so people can stop stealing electricity and burning their houses down with poorly wired grow-ops.
• On health care , he says “You don’t really care, at the end of the day, who owns the MRI machine.” Uh, yeah, actually a lot of us do care. We want to own it.
• I was surprised that he’s against corporate bailouts . Most tories these days have turned into socialists, investing billions of tax-payer dollars into the companies of their choice, embracing the ideology of a planned economy. Well, you gotta give him credit for being consistent. This guy’s a real conservative. Not like that Harper fellow.
Lastly, I just want to say that we should all be listening to each other more. I’m sure I’ll get a few messages from some New Democrats saying “Why are you giving exposure to Hudak?”. The theory in politics these days is to ignore your enemies. Don’t mention their name, or engage in a dialogue with them. After all, voting is all about ‘name recognition’. Whoever’s name gets mentioned the most wins. It’s a pretty patronizing view of voters. I’d rather see everyone sharing ideas, and engaging in discussion about policy directions. I have a lot of respect for young bloggers (like John Laforet and Chris Tindal ) who cover all the parties on their sites, regardless of their own affiliation and push for multi-partisan dialogue. This could be because we’re young and naïve, or because we represent a new generation of voters who demand more intelligent discussion. I’ll let you know in 15 years.
* I should note that the only reason Hudak could become Premier is because of First Past the Post. Most Ontarians don’t support a conservative agenda, and consistently vote against his Party. But voter intent doesn’t really matter in Ontario. He could easily form a government, just like Mike Harris did with 44% , or Stephen Harper did with 38% .
At the debates, Hudak repeatedly stated that a ‘vast majority’ of Ontarians agree with his conservative ideology.
That’s not the case, and never has been.
Dave Meslin , is a Toronto-based community organiser. His areas of interest include Public Space, Bikes and Electoral Reform.