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Not holding elected office may be a plus for John Tory
Ontario's Progressive Conservatives will choose a new leader in September and they seem about to do something no party has done in half a century. That is to pick someone, John Tory -- whose name suggests he was destined from birth to lead a Conservative party -- who has never been elected to any public office.

All political parties have traditionally shied from choosing leaders without elected experience, because those candidates they have not passed the test of showing they can win and perform effectively in a public arena.

Ontario parties also have almost invariably insisted on choosing someone who served in the legislature and demonstrated ability there. MPPs, who play a large part in the selection, also more selfishly want a leader they feel more comfortable with and can influence.

Ernie Eves, the Tory premier defeated last October, was not in the legislature when his party picked him as leader in 2002, but he had been a minister and an MPP for 20 years before quitting briefly to return to the private sector.

The only leader chosen by an Ontario party in decades who had not served first in the legislature was Bob Rae, who was snapped up by the New Democrats in 1982, but he had spent four years in the House of Commons and demonstrated federally that he was articulate and effective. Source.

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July 15, 2004