But the absence of Hudak, who has largely defined this campaign with his controversial plan to eliminate 100,000 public service positions to help create one million private-sector jobs, casts a pall over the Valhalla Inn event.
Hudak is fond of saying "if you have 100 priorities, you have no priorities." He's also said that it's not the role of government to pick favourites in industry through bailouts. Hudak has also said he's the guy who will show Ontario some tough love and do what needs to be done, cutting this and that, breaking eggs to make omelets.
Tim Hudak is also known for being a particularly obstinate partisan. Between doing what's in the best interest of Ontarians, scoring legislative wins for his Party or poking his finger in the eye of other Parties, 9 times out of 10 he'll choose option 3.
He's got it out for teachers, unions, the Working Families Coalition and all kinds of others. These are the people he defines himself by standing against. He will fight them, period, because he knows it's good politics, red meat for his base.
That's his priority, after all - that's why he wants to be Premier. He wants to step on his foes and reward his ideological brethren/those who vote or are likely to vote his way.
Hudak knows he hasn't a hope in hell of winning a seat in the North and also knows he doesn't need those seats to form government. Economist that he is, he's simply rationalizing his priorities - he doesn't need the north, so he sees no interest to court them.
Should Hudak win, however, he might decide that exploiting the Ring of Fire is in his (the province's) best interests. A lot of development needs to go in there first, though, and not all of it is development that Northern Ontarians (First Nations included) are all in accordance with.
Just as Hudak didn't need to court this vote to win, though, he'll feel they have no business interfering in his priorities as Premier. If those priorities include aggressive development in the Ring of Fire, well, that's his business - not that of those who live there.
Hudak has been described as to the right of his former mentor and Party leader, Mike Harris. Harris didn't cut as severely as Hudak wants to; Hudak has taken Harris a step further.
Remember "I want the fucking Indians out of my park?"
The ever-obstinate Mike Harris had a plan that was being interfered with by some people who were not part of his coalition and therefore had no business interfering with his decisions as Premier. He showed them some tough love, too.
Which reminds me - has anyone asked Hudak what his team plans to do about Caledonia?
Hopefully, that's not one of his priorities.