Ontario ‘PC’ leader has ties to speed-limiter issue

| 7/7/2009

The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has chosen MPP Tim Hudak to take on the Liberal Party in the next election.

Hudak defeated MPP Frank Klees by a narrow margin of electoral votes during a runoff for party leadership the final week of June. Candidates and fellow Members of Provincial Parliament Christine Elliott and Randy Hillier placed third and fourth respectively. Approximately 40,000 registered members of the party cast ballots in the leadership runoff.

The Progressive Conservatives, also known as the PCs or Tories, have nothing to lose in the 2011 provincial election. Back in 2003, the Liberals abruptly ended 13 years of PC rule and won a majority government.

That majority gave the Liberals the power to pass a speed-limiter mandate for heavy-duty trucks and to create a pilot program allowing certain mega fleets to put longer combination vehicles on the highways. Also brewing is a carbon “cap and trade” system that would tax a number of industries.

PC Party leaders regrouped and chose Hudak as their new leader following the resignation of former leader MPP John Tory. Hudak will face Ontario Premier and Liberal Party Leader Dalton McGuinty in the 2011 provincial election.

Hudak did not directly address the issue of speed limiters during the party leadership campaign, but he has a history with the issue. It remains unclear where he stands at the present time.

When the McGuinty government put its speed-limiter agenda forward, Hudak issued a statement criticizing the premier for doing a “U-turn” on the issue. Previous to the Liberal push, the Progressive Conservative Party attempted to pass a speed-limiter bill from the back benches but the Liberals let the measure die in committee.

“This plan didn’t even get support from the Minister’s own parliamentary assistant when it was brought forward over a year ago,” Hudak said in the statement dated July 5, 2007. “Now that we’re heading into an election, the McGuinty Liberals have pulled a U-turn and said they’re going to have speed limiters installed on trucks.”

Recent calls by Land Line to Hudak’s office have gone unreturned.

Two of Hudak’s opponents in the leadership race, Klees and Hillier, told Land Line during the campaign that they would work to overturn the government’s speed-limiter mandate if elected. Hillier had also vowed to increase speed limits on Ontario’s 400 series highways to the equivalent of 70 mph.

– By David Tanner, staff writer