Tim Hudak and Rob Ford - Macleans.ca

Tim Hudak and Rob Ford

Paul Wells on why Ontario’s PC leader needs a Sister Souljah moment


Somebody working for Tim Hudak, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader, should slip the Wikipedia entry for “Sister Souljah moment” under their hapless boss’s nose. “Sister Souljah moment” was a term of art in U.S. politics for a while. It denotes a decision by a party leader to cut loose a public figure who might normally be seen as sympathetic, but who is perceived as so extreme that the leader can impress centrist voters by criticizing the extremist.

The term comes from a moment in 1992 when Bill Clinton criticized a black female rapper, a tactic for signalling to centrist voters that he might be worth a look. But the “other examples” Wikipedia mentions help fill out the concept: George W. Bush implied criticism of Robert Bork, John McCain cut Jerry Falwell loose, Barack Obama criticized his own erstwhile pastor Jeremiah Wright.

Hudak, a pleasant fellow who has struggled to cement his leadership of the Ontario Conservatives, has preferred to hold Toronto’s Ford brothers close. He’s planned, at various points, to let Doug Ford, a mean and stupid bully, run as a star candidate for the provincial party at the next election. He has been slow to criticize Doug’s addled little brother Rob. He went a step toward a sense of broader responsibility on Monday when he implied he’d support some move to strip Rob Ford of most mayoral powers. But his tone and vocabulary were tentative and seemed to suggest more sympathy for the Fords than for Torontonians.

There’s another way to play this, and it would have the virtue of, well, virtue: Hudak could call Rob Ford an unfit mayor, reject Doug Ford’s quest to nominate everyone else in Toronto as the villain, and call the brothers’ disgusting behaviour by some appropriate names. In so doing, he would suggest a Hudak government might stand for something; dismiss cronyism; show himself to be more than a blue-team mascot; and give a few Ontarians reason to learn his name.

I write all this even though I have almost no confidence Hudak will show the imagination the situation requires. Politics is full of people who sit cautiously on leads they don’t have, and who put their own team ahead of the electorate.



Tim Hudak and Rob Ford

  1. The final sentence is a nice summary of Mr. Hudak.

  2. Hudak publicly supported ousting Rob Ford,

    • Only when he bulldozed a middle-aged woman on international television.

  3. He could cry. Flaherty cried over Ford. A macleans reporter even said it was a human moment, and not a politician wieghing whether he should risk saying things that might help or his friend Ford or support (Flaherty did neither, but merely made mealy mouthed platitudes while choking back more tears).

  4. “But his tone and vocabulary were tentative and seemed to suggest more sympathy for the Fords than for Torontonians.”

    I don’t think Hudak cares about your snobbish friends in The Annex, Wells. I saw footage of Ford at Argos game on Sunday and he was mobbed by Torontonians treating him like a rock star. Hudak is betwixt and between because Fords are still popular with his voters while the snobbish left is unlikely to ever vote Conservative.

    I have been enjoying watching left wing types get their knickers in a twist because they know all pols are suffering now. Right wing people like me can say, ‘how difficult can government work be, even crack addicts can do it’. Other people think all pols are on drugs or are alcoholics and are not remotely surprised by Ford revelations.

    • And everyone who isn’t a right winger can say “How ethical and law abiding can Conservatives be when they support a man who hangs out with drug dealers, is a crack addict and who spent months lying about it”

      • Yep. You can call them bloody hypocrites.

    • You know what’s snobbish? Assuming you know who a stranger’s friends are, where they live, and what kind of personality they have.

      • You don’t have to defend yourself. Reasonable people all see this debacle the same way (in my travels), independent of political inclination.

      • How is that “snobbish”?

    • That you can find schadenfreude in this circus AS A RIGHT WINGER is an extraordinary feat of imagination.

      • Just hang about, he’ll find a way to squeeze in Trudeau and the nazis in there eventually.

    • “Right wing people like me can say, ‘how difficult can government work
      be, even crack addicts can do it’. Other people think all pols are on
      drugs or are alcoholics and are not remotely surprised by Ford

      Who ever said all conservatives think alike?

      Just look at the diversity of ignorance!

    • It’s
      amazing how some in Ford Nation still embrace Doug Ford’s talking points. This
      morning though, the American Morning Shows (not the Night Comedies) certainly
      didn’t and they told him and the audience that. Why do the Fords pander to the
      Americans? Because they the Canadians have lost patience and Rob wants things
      unfiltered from his perspective. When it gets down to it Doug is just a bully
      with practically no political experience or good judgment. At the Football Game
      the lady sitting beside Ford has an anti-Ford sign on, and Ford has to go cherry-picking
      his supporters who are few in number but boisterous in a sea of more rational
      voters. If you witnessed the pandemonium yesterday at council, a fistfight
      almost broke out between the Fords and people yelling Shame, Shame. Rob Ford
      instigated that, see Rogers Cable or Christie Blatchford in the National Post. The
      Sun, National Post, the Three Provincial Parties and their Federal Counterparts
      all think it is time for him to step aside. How is the man going to get
      anything done with no coalition of support left, all politicians need a team. I
      would say that if limiting his role doesn’t stop his personal idiocies, the
      Province will change the statute and he “Will” be gone.

      • You should know you’re done when someone as loopy and cranky as Blatchford abandons you.

        • OK, Christie is not one of my favourite columnists, but accurate in her facts most of the time. At least you recognize Rob is done. My concern is that Hudak leaves the door open for his brother Doug, who can’t get enough of himself. The CRTC doesn’t have enough funding in place to monitor things when Rob and Doug’s media presence becomes Kim Kardesian like, all the Ford’s all the time.

          • I’m not questioning your take. The Ford brothers look like a joke, but it may turn out to be not funny at all.
            I can’t stomach Blatchford since she went around smearing FN’s groups as terrorists. She wrote another odious article about the fracking protesters in NB being opposed because they want to all stay on welfare. Both she and Wente think they’re some kind of contrarian anti- elitists; they aren’t, they’re primarily self regarding tools of the establishment without self respect imo. Rather like Ezra – intellectual wh***s for hire.

          • It’s amazing what you say because I am a small “l” liberal, heck I live in Fort Erie away from problems and was raised in a PC home. I read the news from the other side and have a digital subscription to the Toronto Star that largely I have ignored because the real story has been found by the other papers after the May 18 story. For Sun News and the National Post to change their opinion and to do it so decisively, it makes me feel that the media is back to investigative reporting like it once was. What I want to say is that most journalists have integrity, Christie Blatchford is one. For me she is not the enemy, I am aware of her conservative slant but that’s what makes her writing worthwhile in forming my opinion. Don’t shoot the messenger, read people from all sides of the argument. Anyways it’s Robyn Doolittle of the Star that has my attention right now because she knows this issue more than the others. She is a master journalist that knows a lot more than she’s telling. That’s what makes politics interesting.

    • People always gawk and gather at accidents.

    • And centrists can keep pointing out that often things continue to run smoothly despite the right wing elements in our politics.

    • You are defending a brazen liar with no moral compass, or even the basic impulse control to not go on a blind rampage. That’s not even getting into your party’s naked two-faced attitude towards drugs and gangs.

      Why the hell are you alright with this?

    • You’re actually insane if you think Ford was mobbed as a ‘rock star.’ The snobbish left likes to hold people accountable for their blatant criminal activities. Wow. How harsh and inhumane of us. You’re supposed to be a conservative but will support Ford, an admitted drug user, buyer and criminal associate, and Hudak, whose financial plans will sink our province faster than Mike Harris’. The hypocrisy and ignorance from the right side of the fence is getting pathetic.

  5. I’m sick of politicians who won’t say or do the right thing for fear of the implications for their own political future. Come on, Hudak, contribute to a solution to the mess in Toronto!

  6. Except for the crude attempt to to drag Trudeau into the mud, Harper has been loath to offer any criticism of Ford and risk alienating the Ford nation faction of the Conservative base.

    • He hasn’t offered anything but a vague hint of criticism without mentioning Ford or Toronto or the mayoralty. It’s all Trudeau’s fault.

  7. I assume Hudak is going to stay the course re: the Fords. But the federal Conservatives are in the same boat — in fact, Ford might make more waves for them than the provincial Tories. As long as the federal Conservatives are being tepid in their handling of Rob Ford, their attacks on Trudeau on the marijuana legalization front are significantly blunted. If they’re going to portray themselves as pure as the driven snow on the narcotics front, the federal Tories need to make a very clean, hard break with Rob Ford.

    • I don’t think that is going to happen; as JW said, the feds are not going to risk alienating the Ford Nation support. Moreover, if they keep trying to nail Trudeau about recreational pot use, I think they are showing they have no flexibility on the issue at all, and will not consider any reasoned arguments to change pot laws. Meanwhile, harper is happy as hell to head out to Regina for Grey Cup, where he can pet Brad Wall and have no end of SK acolytes sniffing at his ankles and forget all about PMO/Senate scandal, missing $3.1 billion, Michael Sona-bird singing, and good buddy and fellow Conservative Rob Ford.

      • This is what makes me crazy. I’m not a conservative, but always believed that conservatives stood for law & order, personal responsibility, civility and they were prepared to stand by their principals. That both the Provincial & Federal Conservatives are worried about alienating Ford Nation by criticizing him speaks volumns about their REAL opinion of the electorate – they think the electorate are foolish, ignorant & boorish (like Ford) and mostly approve of this freak-show. There is a reason many people hold politicians in contempt – this is one of them. To quote John Mellancamp “you have to stand for something or you don’t stand for anything at all”. Come on Conservatives, show some cojones – time to condemn Ford, his brother, & their behavior and tell them publicly they are no longer welcome in the conservative tent.

        • Worse to me is the ignorant treatment of the nameless faceless Canadians who are struggling with addiction — it is a huge problem and all the cons are doing is creating a huge hypocritical circus. Drug addiction is a health, not justice, issue — and pot is, to quote the late Jack Layton, merely “a wonderful plant.”

          We tend to think Cons are the law and order, lower your taxes, look after the finances choice — but that is only because they tell us that. We end up broke every time they get into power — so why is that myth perpetuated? Bully governments are really in vogue in Canada these days — I sure hope that pendulum swings back by 2015.

          PS: thank you for quoting John Mellancamp (who will always be Cougar to me) — one just doens’t get enough of that on these comment boards.

          • Yes, I also hope that bully governments bite the dust soon. Am really hoping that might be a positive result of this Ford debacle.

          • Harper is no Conservative, what-so-ever. Harper was Policy Chief for his, Northern Foundation of 1989. He had hired Wolfgang Droege and his Heritage Front as, security for Preston Manning. Wolfgang Droege was murdered in 2005.

            Harper and Flaherty campaigned very hard for Ford. All of them are friends. We also know? Harper cut his Senators throats to, save his own miserable hide.

            Mulcair had tripped Harper up more than few times for, his lies and deceit. Harper has no credibility left.

            We really don’t know how much of Canada, Harper has given Communist China. Harper’s FIPA deal with China? China wants the timber and mines on Vancouver Island. Rich Coleman is working on this, as we speak. China has paid for, 800 hectares at Prince Rupert. Christy Clark and Harper, gave China our natural gas too. China will build their LNG plants at Prince Rupert.

            By the next election, there will be nothing left of BC, nor Canada. Harper has said, we won’t recognize Canada after he gets through with our country. So true. Canada has never had a Fascist Dictatorship PM until Harper.

            Harper should appoint his good buddy Ford, to his PMO. Duffy would fit right in with the rest of, Harper’s degenerates.

        • But it’s sooo much easier to diss JT, and it doesn’t cost us anything.[we hope] Principles are for losers and occasionally winners when you need them and nothing else is handy, or there’s no one else left to blame.
          PMO flunky

    • Just imagine if Trudeau had done what Ford has done.

      • Meh. The fact that they both used illegal drugs while in office is close enough for Trudeau’s critics. However, if you’re going to go after Trudeau with both barrels, you better give an equal amount of buckshot to Ford. I’m not seeing that from Harper or Hudak.

        I would predict, however, that if Harper does make a clean hard break from Ford, and chucks him right under the bus, Ford Nation will drop Ford like a hot potato. They love Ford because he’s Team Blue. If Team Blue’s captain cuts all strings, Ford’s done.

  8. This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper

  9. If Hudak doesn’t publicly dissociate from and repudiate Doug Ford’s provincial political aspirations, he is, at the very least, exposing his party to the prospect of a very nasty nomination fight wherever Ford decides to barge in.

    I actually hope Hudak abides Ford’s candidacy somewhere. In doing so, he will further alienate moderate right voters from his Tea Party North platform and define himself, once again, as a morally spineless opportunist.

    • Yes, this could be the beginning of the end of the “Tea Party North” (or the old “Common Sense Revolutionaries” if you like). My politics are mostly left-of-centre, but I do miss the old Red Tories :-)

  10. Well said. I despise the Ontario Liberals with something approaching the heat of a thousand suns, but if Tim Hudak is stupid enough to let Doug Ford anywhere near a nomination I will stay home on election day.

  11. Wells previously said that conservatives should be able to find someone other than Rob Ford to run on the “gravy train” platform, so to speak.

    However, the PCs last leaders have been Ernie Eves, John Tory and Tim Hudak, all of whom love gravy and probably serve gravy with every meal. All 3 of them are also experts at pulling defeat from the jaws of victory, and none could win a race with a Galapagos tortoise.

    At the Toronto mayoral level, the last few mayors have been Miller, Lastman, Hall, etc. They love gravy.

    So it makes me wonder if that’s true. Obviously the demand is there for a Rob Ford who is not Rob Ford. But I don’t see much of a supply.

  12. Watching Doug Ford lead his brother Mayor Ford around these last few days was like watching a dancing bear. It’s no longer funny, just horrifying. I am struck by the compassion expressed by those in medicine and related fields who recognize that the younger Ford is really ill and headed for an early death. Good god he’s only 44! Those Conservatives who continue to support his political career despite his personal demons do neither him nor their political cause any favours.

  13. “Doug Ford, a mean and stupid bully”: a nice, succinct summary.