This weekend was the first time John Tory had to formally face his party since the embarrassing election loss in October. Normally having your party blown out in an election and losing your own seat is an automatic sign step down. After a long campaign and a promise to never, ever bring up the faith based school funding issue again, Tory managed to garner 66.9% support to stay on.
The Conservative Party is split between the 'Progressive' and 'Conservative' fragments. Not having an overwhelming majority of support will cause the campaign to force Tory to resign to continue. Uniting the party will be a difficult task. Tory must deal with asking an MPP to step down to allow him to take a seat in Queen's Park.
The fact he has not been knocked out yet is a testament to his character. He has the character traits that people like to see in their politicians. He fought a campaign based on his convictions and payed the ultimate price. He was willing to take a risk by avoiding running in a safe seat. While Premier McGuinty was proud of the fact that he did not knock on any doors and was kept away from unscripted meetings with people who were not pre-cleared as Liberal supporters. Tory went door to door on the campaign trail often followed by the media ready to pounce on him if someone asked him a tough question. He is also known for his strong work ethic at Queen's Park.
Tory took a risk and lost. His reputation in Ontario is severely tarnished, which could put him at a serious disadvantage in the 2011 election. Repairing the split in the party is going to be too big of a task without a change at the top. The best move for him would be to move on as party leader and find another way to apply his skills at serving the public.
The real loser in all this politicking is the 53,000 students in faith based schools. The government funds sports, arts, Catholic, Aboriginal, Gay and Lesbian and coming soon Afrocentric schools. Intentionally ignoring Jewish, Muslim, Protestant etc... schools is a tragedy to the multicultural mosaic of Ontario. Ontario has been condemned by the United Nations for this arrangement. The election proved that it is easier to ignore these human rights issues than try to find an appropriate solution.
In order to move forward the Conservatives need a new face and a new direction. Failing to do so could leave the Liberals in office until 2015 without a serious challenge. Just as it took the federal Conservatives a decade to recover from the Kim Campbell loss (which Tory was part of the campaign team), losing in 2011 could be just as devastating for the Conservatives in Ontario.