Despite earlier reports that John Tory has the full support of caucus, it is being suggested that there is a movement behind the scenes to replace him as Ontario Conservative leader. The Toronto Star reports that meeting of high-level Conservatives will be held tonight to launch a campaign to dump John Tory as leader.
They indicate that a dinner will be held tonight at the Toronto home of Ron McLaughlin, former chief of staff to one-time premier Mike Harris, for about a dozen top Conservatives. Sources say disaffected backers of Tory's 2004 leadership, who worked on the recent campaign, are also planning to go tonight and that the people attending represent a broad coalition.
A new website, www.draftaleader.com, was launched by Windsor party activist Nick Kouvalis designed to help concerned party members join forces and elect delegates who will vote Yes at the Feb. 24 leadership review in London. John Tory needs at least half the vote to prevent a leadership review. To date, Tory supporters have not organized and delegate selection takes place in January. With a little over 2 months to go, he may be in trouble.
I think the anti-Tory campaign is being either too hasty or short-sighted. It takes time to turn around a political party. Dalton McGuinty failed to meet expectations in his first election but has since won two majorities. It takes time to establish name recognition with the public when they pay so little attention to politics between elections. It didn't help that he jumped on an issue (religious school funding) that polarized voters and ensured his defeat. But the next time he will be that much wiser.
The issue to be considered should be whether he is a strong leader and can continue to direct the party to an election victory. If the feeling is he can't then he should be replaced. But making him a scapegoat does not serve the party well at all.