Flaherty’s widow running for Ontario PC party leadership

The race for the Ontario Tory leadership kicked off in earnest Wednesday, with deputy party leader Christine Elliott launching her bid, a decision she said her late husband, former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty, would have supported.

TORONTO — The race for the Ontario Tory leadership kicked off in earnest Wednesday, with deputy party leader Christine Elliott launching her bid, a decision she said her late husband, former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty, would have supported.

Elliott became the first candidate in the running to succeed Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, who is stepping down following the party’s crushing electoral defeat earlier this month.

It marks her second attempt to lead the party — she finished third when Hudak won the Tory leadership race in 2009 — and she said Wednesday that Flaherty wanted to see her succeed.

“I can tell you that it’s something that Jim always wanted me to do,” she said. “He always wanted me to move forward in whatever capacity presented itself and I feel sure that he would have been happy with my decision.”

Elliott entered politics in 2006, winning a byelection in Whitby, east of Toronto, when Flaherty vacated the seat to run federally. No byelection has yet been called to fill the seat federally since Flaherty died in April.

Elliott said Wednesday that “there’s no question” she had an opportunity to consider running federally, but her heart is in provincial politics.

Flaherty himself twice tried to lead the Ontario Tories, but both his bids in 2002 and 2004 failed.

Hudak is vacating the post July 2, when the legislature resumes, after his party lost nine seats in the June 12 provincial election and voters handed the Liberals a majority government. The party will appoint an interim leader who will serve until a new one is chosen, but no date has been set for a convention.

Elliott acknowledged “a certain degree of frustration” in her party about the loss and vowed to rebuild. She returned several times during her press conference Wednesday to the theme of listening to everyone, as she vowed to rebuild.

“I think that’s something that has been underestimated,” she said.

Many Tory members of the provincial legislature had complained they were not told about the party’s election pledge to cut 100,000 public-sector jobs until hours before Hudak announced it in the first week of the campaign.

The promise dominated the headlines for weeks and prompted public-sector unions to launch unprecedented anti-Tory campaigns, including a series of attack ads that saturated TV and radio.

“I had a good relationship with (the central campaign), but I think that there were some people that feel that they were left out and I think that that’s not something that I want to do,” Elliott said.

The next provincial election may be four years away, but it’s not a very long time, considering the amount of work that has to be done, Elliott said.

“We have a huge amount of work to do,” she said.

“We need to go back and rebuild our party from the ground up. And it starts by listening to all of our members and by listening to all Ontarians. We simply need to take our party in a new way forward.”

While calling her overarching vision a simple one, Elliott noted that it wouldn’t be easy to execute.

“It’s going to take experienced leadership,” she said. “I believe, in fact, I know, that I am ready to provide that experienced leadership.”

The mother of three said her experience as a lawyer, entrepreneur and a parent taught her to listen to others.

“As leader, I’ll re-engage with our grassroots supporters and those that share our Progressive Conservative values by asking these questions — what is your vision for a prosperous Ontario and what can we do together to get us there,” she said.

Other names that have been floated as potential leadership contenders are Tory labour critic Monte McNaughton, Tory energy critic Lisa MacLeod, Tory finance critic Vic Fedeli and party president Richard Ciano.

Just Posted

Red Deerians shop for exotic plants at spring plant sale

Exotic plants are popular at the Red Deer & District Garden Club’s… Continue reading

Central Albertans come together to end MS

Red Deer’s Bre Fitzpatrick has MS. The medication the 34-year-old is on… Continue reading

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — Crews battling an enormous wildfire just outside the… Continue reading

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

OTTAWA — While most Canadians firmly back the Charter of Rights and… Continue reading

Red Deer stamp-collecting event a hit, local club expected to start in fall

Postage stamp-loving Red Deerians can expect to have a place to gather… Continue reading

WATCH: Cars, airplanes, motorcyles on display at Red Deer Airport

Cars, motorcycle and airplane enthusiasts united at the Red Deer Airport Sunday… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

Bid to get D-Day beaches added to list of UN World Heritage Sites in limbo

OTTAWA — The beaches of Normandy, where the Allies stormed ashore to… Continue reading

Could this 20-year-old Montreal polyglot be Canada’s most multilingual student?

MONTREAL — Georges Awaad answers the phone with a polite “Hello,” but… Continue reading

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals have laid out their proposal for rules… Continue reading

Trump’s trophy day of sumo, golf and cheeseburgers in Japan

TOKYO — President Donald Trump presented a special U.S.-made trophy to the… Continue reading

Two dead, one seriously injured, following explosion in Calgary home’s garage

CALGARY — Police in Calgary say they believe a house fire where… Continue reading

Raptors fans spill onto the streets ahead of potentially historic game

Cars honked, exhilarated fans chanted and long lines formed outside bars and… Continue reading

Most Read