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The Hamilton Spectator
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Thursday March 19, 2009
Former premier Mike Harris is aggressively building support for MPP Tim Hudak in the race to succeed John Tory as Progressive Conservative leader, the Star has learned.

Harris, who governed Ontario from 1995 to 2002 and is an iconic figure to Conservatives, has been working the phones for Hudak, a former minister in his government and MPP for Niagara West-Glanbrook, since Tory's surprise defeat in a by-election on March 5.

"Mike is doing the hard sell and he can be very persuasive," lamented one senior Tory aligned with Whitby-Oshawa MPP Christine Elliott, a rival candidate.

Harris's return to the forefront of provincial politics comes after years of quietly brooding on the sidelines while leaders like Tory and former premier Ernie Eves lurched the party to the centre and into the electoral wilderness.

Harris has made a lot of money on various boards and at the law firm Goodmans LLP, even though he's not a lawyer, and he can be seen tooling around Toronto in his Cadillac Escalade.

But he has missed the action of politics. Neither Tory nor Eves ignited Harris's passion about lean, fiscally conservative government the way Hudak evidently has.

While Harris was in Calgary on business yesterday and unavailable for comment, associates confide he has been energized by the still-unofficial leadership contest.

Last Wednesday night, a secret meeting was held in a boardroom at the former premier's Yonge St. office where decisions were made about Hudak's fledgling campaign. Source.

Mike Harris is back as Tory kingmaker
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