John Tory to quit today: Sources
Niagara's Hudak a possible successor
March 06, 2009
Rob Ferguson and Robert Benzie
LINDSAY - John Tory will announce today that he is stepping down as Progressive Conservative leader, the Star has learned, his political career brought to a screeching halt as he lost a hard-fought by-election to the Liberals in cottage country.
Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Conservative Toby Barrett is already talking up a replacement for Tory as party leader. Barrett says Niagara West-Glanbrook MPP Tim Hudak will likely run to succeed Tory in an upcoming leadership convention. It is possible Tory could hold on as leader in the wake of his loss, but Barrett finds that "highly unlikely" and he expects Tory's resignation, possibly as early as today."I would expect that we're into another Progressive Conservative leadership race and Tim's a good (candidate)," Barrett said last night from his Port Dover home, where he was watching the byelection results on the evening news."He's very competent and I know him very well. We've got a good one in Tim Hudak."
Tory, who had candidly admitted during the campaign that he would be in "a very difficult circumstance" unless he won, surrendered the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock riding that has been solidly Conservative since the mid-1990s to local school trustee and musician Rick Johnson."Obviously, I am very disappointed," Tory, gracious in defeat, told hushed supporters in his concession speech above a Greek restaurant shortly before 11 p.m."But the voters can never be wrong in what they decide and I respect their decision."
A highly placed Conservative source confirmed Tory would reveal his plans to step aside at a Queen's Park news conference this afternoon, setting a leadership race in motion."For now, I will only say that I gave this campaign my very best," Tory told the crowd of several dozen before being whisked out of the room without taking reporters' questions.
Party insiders have signalled for weeks that their patience was wearing thin given that it's been 17 months since Tory lost his previous seat in the Ontario Legislature, leaving the party in limbo as the economy has worsened under Liberal control.
Tory could not overcome local grumbling that he was a "parachute" candidate from Toronto among the farmers and other residents in the sprawling rural and cottage country riding which the party believed was a safe seat."
They knew from the first moment that I was not from here," Tory said, noting that he felt "treated fairly" by the voters.Tory spent an exhaustive 15-month search for a new seat after he failed to win one in the 2007 general election in a contest against Liberal Education Minister Kathlene Wynne.
MPP Laurie Scott stepped down at the start of this year and cleared the way for Tory to run in her riding of Haliburton-Kawarth Lakes-Brock.Speaking outside his campaign office in downtown Lindsay before the polls closed, Tory acknowledged the past 15 months haven't been easy."It's been a challenging period of time for me personally, and it's been challenging politically," said Tory who took the party's top job in 2004.
The former Rogers executive easily won the riding of Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey in a 2005 byelection, but chose to run against Wynne in a Toronto riding two years later .
Barrett, who had been door knocking for Tory, said he had an inkling things were not going his leader's way when people began expressing resentment that Tory was from Toronto and was not a local person like Scott."The resentment I heard was about Toronto," Barrett said. "It was all about Laurie Scott and John Tory and the fact Laurie stepped aside for him.
Friday, March 6, 2009
John Tory to quit today: Sources