PROFILE: Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak

Tim Hudak serves as both leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and a husband and father. Those two parts of his life are more intertwined than he likes to admit.
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, seen with wife Debbie Hutton and daughter Miller, hopes to end eight years of Liberal rule.

Tim Hudak serves as both leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and a husband and father. Those two parts of his life are more intertwined than he likes to admit.

His wife, Debbie Hutton, was a high-level adviser to former PC premier Mike Harris.

His first daughter Miller was born in 2007, in the heat of a provincial election campaign. Miller was born prematurely, spending her first three weeks of life in the neonatal ICU at Women's College.

Hudak stopped campaigning to be with her.

In that election, he won his seat by his widest margin yet, something that's prompted him to joke maybe he shouldn't hit the campaign trail at all.

His second daughter, Maitland, just missed this campaign, arriving in March of this year.

While she didn’t come during an election, the newest Hudak arrived at crucial time for the PC leader.

The week she was born, he was threatened with a libel action from Premier Kathleen Wynne and the governing Liberals. The threat came after Hudak tied Wynne to the gas plants scandal, a series of gas plants abandoned during the throes of the last election by Wynne’s predecessor, Dalton McGuinty. It has since come to light that McGuinty’s chief of staff allegedly had ordered emails deleted off hard drives about the cost of the cancelled plants, a matter of investigation by Ontario Provincial Police.

Hudak said, "We now know that the coverup and criminal destruction of documents and emails took place in Kathleen Wynne's office under her watch as premier," adding that she "possibly ordered the destruction of documents."

Vital signs

Born: Nov. 1, 1967 in Fort Erie, Ont.

Education: Bachelors degree in economics, University of Western Ontario, 1990. Masters in economics, University of Washington in Seattle, 1993.

Political life: First elected in 1995, served in cabinet of premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves. Won leadership of party in 2009.

Personal: Married to Debbie Hutton. The couple have a six-year-old daughter, Miller, and another infant daughter named Maitland, born in March 2014.

Hudak has not backed down from Wynne in the weeks since.

Government spending has been Hudak’s target since he became leader in August 2009.

Shortly after taking the helm of the PCs, he targeted the Liberals' management of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, eventually prompting the firing of its executive.

His zeal for focusing on spending scandals, it seems, has not died.

Hudak was first elected to Queen's Park in 1995, riding the wave of the so-called Common Sense Revolution. He was just 27 years old, prompting opponents to criticize him as someone who's barely had a job outside politics.

Hudak grew up in the border town of Fort Erie, and spent summers working on the border as a Canada Customs agent. He did his undergrad at the University of Western Ontario (now known as Western University), then went to the University of Washington in Seattle on a scholarship, getting a master's degree in economics in 1993.

One year later he was working for Wal-Mart as part of a team of managers transforming old Woolco stores across Canada. The year after that he was an MPP.

Harris cabinet member

In his second term he became a cabinet minister in the governments of both Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, holding the lower-profile posts of Northern Development, Tourism, and Consumer Services.

When John Tory quit as PC leader after failing to win a seat twice in a row, Hudak was one of four MPPs to vie for the leadership. He telegraphed his intention of where he wanted to take the party with his leadership campaign slogan: "Right for Ontario." His policies and rhetoric aimed to emphasize the conservative in Progressive Conservative. And he came out on top in the party's leadership vote in June 2009.

Harris endorsed Hudak's run for the leadership, and because Hutton was a senior adviser to Harris, the Liberals have regularly tried to paint him as the second coming of Harris.

While Hudak has never publicly criticized what happened in Ontario in the Harris years, he has tried to reassure people that he will not shut down hospitals and cut education funding.

Hudak is quick to point out that he grew up in a family of educators — his father Patrick was a school principal, his mother Anne Marie was a special needs teacher. He also likes to mention his family's immigrant roots, with grandparents coming to Canada from the former Czechoslovakia in the 1930s.

Hudak played and coached various sports in his younger days and is a big football fan, particularly of the NFL's Buffalo Bills.