Tim Hudak should face leadership review, Tory MPP says

A senior member of the Tory caucus says that Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak should agree to a leadership review.

MPP Frank Klees says if Hudak isn't afraid, he should face a vote

Some members of the Ontario PC party have been pressing for Tim Hudak to face a leadership review next month. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

A senior member of the Tory caucus says that Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak should agree to a leadership review.

"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 Wednesday.

After the party lost four out of five byelections last week, some angry conservatives filed motions to seek a review of Hudak’s leadership at their upcoming policy convention in London, Ont.

Klees, who finished second in the leadership race in 2009, says that Hudak should not be trying to block those motions.

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

Klees says that although the Tories do not have provisions for a leadership review at the convention, it would be a wise decision for Hudak to request one as a way of attempting to solidify the party.

 "For Tim to put that vote out there voluntarily, without being seen to resist that, I think it shows confidence on the part of the leader, and I think that in itself would instill confidence on the part of the members in the leader," he said.

Deputy PC Leader Christine Elliott, who finished third in the 2009 leadership race, says Hudak is already making an effort to see what went wrong in the lost byelections.

"We have already had a conversation about doing a deep analysis about where things didn't turn out the way that we had hoped that they would," said Elliott. "I know that Tim is asking questions, so I think he's doing exactly the right thing now."

Elliott wanted people to remember that none of the five ridings had been Progressive Conservative prior to the byelection and that even still the party made a breakthrough in the by taking the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding in Toronto.  

"As for people bringing challenges forward, it happens all the time, there's always going to be some people that aren't going to be happy," she said. "But I think that we all need to just calm down a little bit."

'Take a deep breath'

Elliott’s comments were echoed by PC party president Richard Ciano, who says that the angry Tories "should take a deep breath" and realize there is no actual need for a leadership review at this time.

Hudak was unavailable for comments because he is away on vacation this week.

When the party held their last leadership review in 2011 — following the loss to the Liberals in the general election — Hudak won over 75 per cent support.

But Klees says reminders of Hudak's strong support from his party members should encourage the vote if anything. 

"If in fact what we're hearing is true, and that is that the majority of the membership are in fact supportive, then he will survive it," said Klees.

"Let's have a confidence vote, and if that takes place I'm convinced that it will be in the best interest of the party, rather than allowing this thing to fester and build up pressure unnecessarily."

With files from The Canadian Press