John Tory’s defeat in the Haliburton-Kawartha byelection obviously puts an end to his career as leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, and probably to any further political aspirations. It’s a hard end for a good man — but it’s probably for the best. His leadership was crippled as it was by the party’s crushing defeat in the last general election and its bizarre, I’m-quitting-no-I’m-not aftermath, and the likelihood is that he would have been in for a rough ride even had he won the byelection.
More to the point, whatever his personal qualities, he did not present a vision of the party that could inspire its followers or attract the uncommitted. Or rather, he did not represent one. The party that chose Tory as its leader was a party that had lost its nerve, its sense of direction, and, in a sense, its mind: once a party of “revolution,” it had grown uninterested in ideas, or in differing in any serious way with the McGuinty Liberals. So it went with a leader who promised nothing but decency, good management, and presentability: all very good things, but insufficient in politics, and certainly for a politics that matters.
So now they, and he, can start again. There’s no shame in that.