2011 Villain: Tim Hudak
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2011 Villain: Tim Hudak

Nominated for: resorting to divisions in the name of conservatism.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past twelve months. From December 12–23, the candidates for Mightiest and Meanest—and new this year, a reader’s write-in option! From December 26–29 you’ll be able to vote for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year, and we’ll reveal the results December 30.

Ontarians deserved a better representative of conservative values than Tim Hudak.

At its best, conservatism tempers the sprawling experimental nature of progressivism to achieve a healthy equilibrium that relies on the best of what we already know and do. Instead, we had a politician who created a platform filled with numbers that didn’t add up, ran a campaign that aimed to marginalize and segregate the population, and when faced with mistakes refused to acknowledge them. That a third of the population still voted for the party likely pointed more to a frustration with the incumbent government than an attraction to the challenger.

Take, for instance, Hudak’s posturing attempt to be tough on crime by advocating a revival of the chain gang for prison inmates, in spite of near-unanimous accord that such a move would end up being ineffective and wasteful. Putting the idea into action would mean hiring armed guards to watch over the prisoners, which isn’t what most people want to see in their communities.

Or, how casually he slipped into xenophobia when he emphasized that the Liberals were prioritizing “foreign workers” over “hard-working” Ontarians with a minor tax credit. (This also seems like an apt time to take a peek at one of the party’s final campaign ads and its ample display of Ontario’s diversity… oh wait.) While the message got fine-tuned and the “foreign workers” phrase was dropped entirely after he claimed not having used it, there was no confusion over how Hudak was running his campaign: directed squarely at the fear-driven, law-and-order segment of the province.

The worst part of his dismal campaign was the release of a misleading ad by the party that misconstrued elements of a resource guide against homophobia and heterosexism by the Toronto District School Board. Nothing says class act like suggesting that the government is attempting to turn your kid gay. Under attack for the ad’s use of skewed or simply invented facts, Hudak defended the ad, while trying to shift attention by wondering if “sex education” was relevant at such a young age, “when they should be learning their ABCs and how to tie their shoes.” We’re fairly certain six-year-olds can handle the complexity of learning about shoelaces, the alphabet, and not hating people who are different from you, all at the same time—even if some adults can’t seem to manage it.

Hudak’s defeat gives Progressive Conservatives in Ontario a few more years to think about their goals. Needless to say, if Hudak runs again he’ll start off with much less goodwill. Perhaps the best way to preserve what’s valuable about the party will be jettisoning its dead-weight leader.