Too bland to be in command?
How can Tim Hudak step out of Mike Harris’ shadow and shine?
BUILD A BRAND, BE A REGULAR GUY
Is he Mike Harris lite? Is he too young? Too inexperienced? Forget the inside baseball. The question most Ontarians still have about Tim Hudak: who is he? The TV commercials with his wife Deb and daughter Miller are a good start. He’s aggressively into the social media, too. But do voters have a “gut” feeling about him, like they did about Rob Ford? He needs to define his brand and then repeatedly hammer at it. And it doesn’t hurt to humanize him. “Yeah, I’d go for a beer with that guy” can be a winning political formula.
Bill Walker, communications strategist
DRESS TO DEFINE
Tim Hudak’s image is very confusing. He has the down-home, folksy manner of Mike Harris, but he dresses likes Dalton McGuinty. He needs an image that reflects who he really is. And he needs it quickly. I recommend he update his wardrobe and hone his presentation skills.
Anne Sowden, image consultant
LOOK PAST THE PC VOTE
This requires counterintuitive thinking because I want Tim Hudak’s politics to flounder.He’s Mike Harris with an iPod. That said, to succeed he must reach beyond the Conservative voter base. That means recognizing that voters want investment in Ontario, not corporate tax cuts. They want quality public services where social services are protected, communities are safe, health care is secure and vulnerable people get help.
Smokey Thomas, president, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
FAMILIES, FACEBOOK AND FIRM PRINCIPLES
Tim needs to stress his understanding of the impact of the issues on hard-working young families like his own. I think he needs to embrace new ways to reach this generation of voters, such as twitter, Facebook and other web apps, in addition to traditional media, and would encourage him to focus on local media as well. Anyone who knows Tim understands that he is his own person — not a Mike Harris clone.Tim is a different leader for a different time with significant new challenges he will face as premier. I would encourage him to just be himself.While it’s important to seek out divergent opinions on issues, at the end of the day, you have to trust your own instincts and be guided by your own principles.
Ernie Eves, former Ontario PC leader and premier
DIFFERENTIATE, BUT DON’T OFFEND
I don’t think Hudak needs to worry about the Mike Harris thing. There’s nothing he can do to counter it, and besides, many Ontarians would love to have Harris back. He needs a few signature policies that will differentiate himself from Dalton McGuinty without offending enough people to jeopardize the anyone-but-McGuinty sentiment that got him this far. I’m sure he’s noticed that every riding that just voted for Rob Ford has a Liberal MPP. Assuming Ford doesn’t fall flat on his face between now and the election, a similar fiscal platform — cut the waste, repeal an unpopular tax or two (pick a tax, any tax!), respect for taxpayers, no cuts to essential services — could be just the ticket.
Chris Selley, columnist, National Post