Pledge to slash Ont. civil sevice a bad call: Interim PC leader

Conservative MPP Jim Wilson. (Supplied photo)

Conservative MPP Jim Wilson. (Supplied photo)

Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

TORONTO -- The Ontario Progressive Conservatives shot themselves in the foot with a surprise election pledge to cut 100,000 public sector jobs which even most PC MPPs didn't like, the new interim leader says.

Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson, chosen by a vote in the PC caucus Wednesday to lead the party until a permanent replacement for Tim Hudak is elected, said the MPPs believe there's a need to hit the reset button after last month's disappointing provincial election campaign.

"Really no criticism of past leaders but we've had a period of about a decade where caucus has felt badly disenfranchised, that they really haven't had a say in the major decisions, that they were given policies that they were asked to sell that probably weren't even popular in their own ridings," Wilson said. "And they certainly didn't always believe the policies in their heart."

Wilson said a prime example was Hudak's election promise to cut deeply into the public sector payroll, which came as a surprise to his own MPPs.

"That was unfairly thrust upon caucus and upon our candidates and we can't do that again," he said.

The PC caucus likes Hudak, who has stepped aside as leader, but believes he took "bad advice," he said.

Wilson won't set policy and intends to give critics and MPPs more freedom to direct the party's response to the majority Kathleen Wynne government, the throne speech Thursday and the upcoming reintroduction of the spring budget.


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