Like his federal cousins, newly minted Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says he will reach out to immigrants to grow the party ahead of the next election.

The party’s ranks must expand from the current 43,000 members if the Tories are to defeat the ruling Liberals in the 2011 provincial election, Hudak said yesterday.

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who endorsed Hudak during the leadership race, has “done a great job” in courting new Canadians, he said.

“I look forward to emulating what he’s done here provincially,” said the former cabinet minister.

Hudak’s grandparents, who immigrated from the former Czechoslovakia, always voted Liberal because they saw the Tories as the “boss’s party,” he said.

“I want to change that. If I can make an important mark on our party going forward, it would be that next wave of new Canadians — whether they come from Slovakia or China or India — will see the Ontario PC party as their natural home.”

In a speech last February, Kenney urged his provincial cousins to court new Canadians, calling them the “demographic future” of both Conservative parties, particularly in Ontario.

But Hudak could hit a roadblock in recruiting newcomers with his controversial promise to scrap the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and have discrimination cases heard in courts.

Leadership rivals Christine Elliott and Frank Klees both warned during the campaign that the policy would tank with voters, particularly ethnic minorities.

Hudak, 41, wouldn’t back off that promise yesterday, but said he’s reaching out to all four candidates in the race to get them involved in the policy process.

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