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Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak makes a campaign stop in Ottawa on Thursday, September 8, 2011.Sean Kilpatrick

The Progressive Conservatives' election platform couldn't be any clearer – the party wants to see "change that guarantees a promising future to every hard-working family that plays by the rules."

Which is why Leader Tim Hudak suddenly finds himself in such an awkward position amid revelations that property rights activist and Conservative candidate Randy Hillier hasn't paid his taxes.

At a press conference Friday following a speech to the Economic Club of Canada, Mr. Hudak refused to say whether he would continue to support Mr. Hillier even though he is behind on his taxes. Canada Revenue Agency has placed two liens on the candidate's home, one for $9,017 and another for $5,863.

"When we found out about this we asked Randy to provide more details," Mr. Hudak said. "My understanding is Randy is negotiating a way to pay back those taxes. I've not talked to Randy directly ... I'm satisfied Randy will be good to his word in negotiating a settlement."

When asked if he would speak with Mr. Hillier about the taxes, he said he would talk to him at some point "just as I'll be talking to every caucus member."

Mr. Hillier is running in Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. He said in a release Thursday night that he and his wife sold a property together, and that was the source of the tax claim.

He also pinned the blame to his wife: "A few years after the sale of some property owned by my wife, a dispute arose with the Canada Revenue Agency on the amount of tax related to the sale.

"There is still an outstanding amount owing by my wife. My wife has engaged with CRA and is working to reach a settlement and expects this matter to be resolved very soon.

"Many thousands of Canadians have disagreements very similar to this with the CRA. I find it unfortunate and disappointing that my political opponents would go to such extraordinary lengths to try to harm me publicly by attacking my wife's personal and private matters."

The tax problem is a tricky one for Mr. Hudak. Mr. Hillier also ran for the party leadership, but withdrew and helped cement Mr. Hudak's victory. In exchange, Mr. Hudak made a controversial pledge to abolish the human rights commission.

Mr. Hillier was also behind the ouster of long-time Tory MPP Norm Sterling, which former Premier Ernie Eves criticized in a tribute dinner to Mr. Sterling a couple of weeks ago, likening the move to something that would happen in the United States under the Tea Party.



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