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
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