Former Ontario PC leader Hudak is quitting politics
After 21 years in provincial politics, the one-time party leader is leaving to run the Ontario Real Estate Board
Hudak, who was first elected in 1995 at the age of 27, says after 21 years in provincial politics it’s time to make a change, so he’ll step down from his Niagara West-Glanbrook seat on Sept. 16.
Hudak had served in the cabinet of Mike Harris and was elected PC leader in 2009, but failed to defeat the Liberal government in the 2011 and 2014 elections.
His wife, Deb Hutton, was a senior adviser to Harris when the two met and married.
Hudak came under widespread criticism even from many Conservatives in 2014 when he promised to fire 100,000 public sector workers if the Tories got elected, an issue many blamed for their defeat.
He emerged as a stronger MPP after stepping down as leader following the 2014 defeat, championing the sharing economy and more liberalized liquor laws, but never seemed to see eye-to-eye with new PC Leader Patrick Brown.
The 49-year-old Hudak has also been hosting a radio talk show on weekends that is syndicated in several Ontario cities.
“These past 21 years have been tremendously rewarding, and I will miss my colleagues in all three parties,” Hudak said in a release Tuesday. “I want to thank all of them, past and present, for their friendship, leadership and advice.”
Brown issued a statement thanking Hudak for his public service.
“I was moved by his compassionate and emotional speech in the legislature in opposition to the Liberal government’s callous cuts to autism therapy,” said Brown.
Premier Kathleen Wynne will have six months after Hudak resigns to call a byelection in his riding. There is already a vacancy in the Ottawa-Vanier riding created when former attorney general Madeleine Meilleur resigned in June.
There is already a byelection scheduled Sept. 1 in Scarborough-Rouge River to replace former MPP Bas Balkissoon.