The Landowners are getting loud. The Randy Hillier and Landowner backed Jack MacLaren failed in his attempt to take over the Carleton-Mississipi Mills (where MacLaren is going to be running for the nomination against party stalwart Norm Sterling, with MacLaren apparently dramatically outselling Sterling in membership) but the war of words continues.
Ed Kennedy, a higher-up in the Landowners movement and an exec on Hillier's riding association says:
This all goes to demonstrate that there are red tories in the party pulling strings, in my estimation. The left knows and fears that the landowner movement is and will effect changes for the better that embody rural rights and Conservative values but due to the success of Randy Hillier, they failed to stop his entry. They fear two honest men in the party and the more in line to come.
This was not unexpected, the same thing happened to Shawn [ED NOTE: This is in reference to the controversial disqualification of Shawn Carmichael, a Landowner backed candidate in the Leeds-Grenville PC nomination, which I covered extensively: http://theliberalscarf.blogspot.com/2010/02/trouble-brewing-for-tories-in-leeds.html] and is more of the same old, same old. The party had been giving Jack a hard time all along since it was known he was going to run.
The loser of course is the party, choosing bootlickers of questionable character over honest men.
And Norm Sterling has struck back, accusing Randy Hillier of supporting MacLaren out of his office, and going as far to suggest that Hillier, who was a strong supporter of Hudak for PC leadership and shares his goal of attacking human rights in Ontario, should leave the PC Party:
"I believe that (Randy Hillier) should either fish or cut bait," Sterling said Thursday. "He should either be a member of the team or he should step outside the team and run as an Ontario Landowner under his own party label...
He said Hillier's office was helping Mac-Laren sell party memberships, and thus votes in the riding-association election, in the run-up to Wednesday's meeting. "He's very much involved," Sterling said.
Sterling called Hillier and MacLaren "political opportunists."
"They want to use the good name of the Progressive Conservative party to push their very narrow and right-wing agenda into the provincial arena," he said. "They don't believe in conservation authorities, they don't believe in milk marketing boards, they go so far as to say let's abandon our planning laws in the province of Ontario."
Sterling says an "uncomfortable" rift has now opened up within caucus, given Hillier's continued desire to unseat him and others."
Hudak issued a weak statement calling for party unity, which was promptly rebuffed by Sterling:
"I really believe the party has to deal with this issue," Sterling said in an interview Thursday. "You can't be wasting your energies on annual (riding association) meetings. I understand in a nomination meeting, if someone wants to run against you that's fine and dandy. It's part of our process. But to take over our organization when you haven't really been part of it and turn it into the Ontario Landowners Party under the name of PC? That shouldn't take place."
What will Hudak do, support the radical right tendency that he himself has openly played to and had the support of for leader, or his party's longest serving MPP?