Hudak's One Million Enemies
As much as people, like myself, love to see overpaid, unionized public servants get kicked to the curb, promising to fire 100,000 public sector employees is only a brilliant move if you're trying to lose an election. Ontario alone has over 1,000,000 public sector employees. Without any specifics, threatening to fire even 1/10 of Ontario's public servants puts all one million of them on high alert. This is how Tim Hudak made one million enemies, infuriated every one of them, and then proceeded to lose the Ontario provincial election.
One million disenfranchised voters who are indifferent to your agenda are manageable and far from threatening. One million disenfranchised voters who are angry and afraid of your agenda are the ticking time bombs that will nuke your ambitions on election night. Not only did Tim Hudak fail to neutralize his opponents, he energized them, filled them with fear and enticed them to show up in hordes to stop him.
In 2011, 49% of eligible voters showed up to strip Dalton McGuinty of his majority. Or, a lot of Liberals and unionized public sector employees stayed home and let Tim Hudak gain an edge. In 2014, voter turnout rose to 52%. This means that the anti-Hudak hordes showed up to make sure he didn't win. Kathleen Wynne's Liberals gained a full percentage point in popular support from 2011, while the NDP also gained a full point. In raw numbers, it means that Wynne gained 200,000 more votes than McGuinty, while Horwath gained just over 160,000 from 2011. Tim Hudak – he lost about 25,000 votes from 2011.
In 2014, 25,000 Progressive Conservatives stayed home or swung Liberal. Probably because they, too, found Tim Hudak's anti-jobs plan frightening or just plain stupid. Even most Ontario conservatives know someone who works in the public sector. Whether it be their wives, children, parents, or cousins, conservatives know someone in the public sector who could have fallen prey to Tim Hudak's ambiguous public sector job cuts.
Ambiguous is the best word to describe Hudak's plan to cut public service jobs. Had Hudak chosen to better articulate his plan he might have soothed people's fears, but he didn't. What's worse is that Tim Hudak and his team planned their 100,000 anti-job strategy for weeks before they announced it. The plan was so vague and sparse on details that it seemed random and whimsical, but it wasn't. Voters didn't know if Hudak would cut 100,000 random jobs on day two, or stagger his job cuts over four years. Furthermore, one million voters in the public sector didn't know if they would be on Tim Hudak's hit-list.
Economically, cutting 100,000 public jobs at once doesn't make sense either. The supposed American conservatives Hudak spent time with in Washington DC shouldn't have assumed Canadians would fall for it, especially in a province with an unemployment rate of 7.4%.
Tim Hudak's vague campaign and bad mathematics were what sealed his fate. Through the month of May, major polls teetered back and forth relentlessly. Some pollsters, like Ipsos-Reid and Oraclepoll, showed Tim Hudak's PCs between 36% and 39%. Our own Poletical poll had similar results. As June 12 came closer, the results began to tighten as the Liberals and NDP used Tim Hudak's bad strategy against him. By June 12, almost every major union and labour group managed to undermine Hudak's backward agenda. Had Tim Hudak not given his own opponents free bullets and ammunition, they would have been shooting blanks. Instead, Hudak gave them everything they needed to give Kathleen Wynne's corrupt, scandal plagued party a majority mandate.
Hopefully all Canadian conservatives have learned from Tim Hudak's failures. If they haven't, Canada could go the way of Ontario.