So, Tim Hudak wanted to unveil his party’s platform on public transportation in the Greater Toronto Area. To do this, Hudak and his campaign team decided that it would be appropriate to make their announcement inside a Toronto subway station.
Yeah, I can see the context. It’s more appropriate and on message here than his earlier decision to announce his plan to fire the population of Pickering whilst standing in a country club. So, point for Hudak.
Just one problem: Hudak’s team didn’t bother to notify the TTC of their plan to, essentially, solicit on TTC property, inside the fare-paid area of the subway, no less.
That shows a lack of organization. So, point against Hudak, there.
Moreover, nobody in Hudak’s “brain trust” thought to wonder whether the TTC space could be used for partisan purposes in the middle of an election campaign. That shows a considerable amount of presumption, and not a little bit of arrogance. Two points down.
The incident resulted in TTC special constables being called in, and Hudak’s campaign team being asked to leave, with reporters in tow. Hudak’s platform announcement was then announced, I believe, on his campaign bus. Once they got there.
Now, in terms of assessing Hudak’s performance today in light of his attempt to become premier, all of these errors are pretty small potatoes. Sure, it’s disorganized. Sure, it’s presumptuous and a little bit arrogant. But it is also, in some ways, an honest mistake. After all, government officials announce initiatives on transit properties frequently. Just… not as often in the middle of a campaign. And more to announce funding initiatives that theoretically will make actual improvements to infrastructure, rather than vague promises that may happen if the voters, in their wisdom, decide to elect the person making these promises premier. So, Hudak jumped the gun a little. Anybody can do that. As long as he owns up to and learns from his mistakes here and adjusts his behaviour accordingly, this incident can help him grow into the kind of leader Ontarians can benefit from.
But did he?
The biggest problem with the response of Hudak’s team today, however, is what came afterward. When trying to explain why Hudak’s team and a bunch of reporters failed to get the necessary permits to take over a TTC station and make a public announcement during operating hours, and why Hudak’s team failed to learn that the TTC doesn’t have such permits to offer to any political party during an election campaign, a representative of Hudak’s team instead said, “CUPE workers stop Tim Hudak photo op on the TTC. They are only interested themselves, not fixing transit for commuters”.
No, sir. That is a lie. The truth is, you made the mistake. You failed to do the necessary research. You presumed that you could just walk in. And rather than own up to your own failures, you instead tried to blame it on other people. Classy. And dumb.
This has been a blind spot for Hudak and his team for some time. When Hudak squandered a double-digit lead and almost handed McGuinty a third consecutive majority government, did he try to learn from the experience? No, he blamed the unions. When Catherine Fife won the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo, previously held by the Conservatives’ Elizabeth Witmer, did he acknowledge that he failed to campaign well enough to persuade the voters in the region to stay by his side? No, he blamed the unions. When the NDP took the riding of London West, even as Hudak’s campaign bus was on its way to give a premature victory speech, did he acknowledge the legitimacy of the voters of London West who had handed him this defeat? No, he blamed the unions.
For a party that is campaigning on accountable government, Hudak’s team sure showed a severe lack of accountability on the TTC today. That was his biggest mistake of the day. And it’s one Hudak has consistently made for as long as he has been leader.