Doug Ford elected Ontario PC Leader after chaotic convention

(By: Jonathan Bradley)

Former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford has been elected the new leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives following a chaotic leadership convention Saturday.

The results were announced after a seven-hour delay that saw Ontario PC members being sent home from the convention at the Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites. After party officials reviewed a challenge, Ford was confirmed to have won on the third round of the preferential ballot vote.

Behind Ford, former Ontario PC deputy leader Christine Elliott finished in second place, financial analyst Caroline Mulroney came in third place, and parental rights activist Tanya Granic Allen came in fourth place.

Elliott initially suggested in a statement that she would not concede because of “serious irregularities” in the leadership race. Sources said there was confusion about the riding certain ballots came from, which led to the delay of the results being released. Hartley Lefton, the chief of the Leadership Election Organization Committee (LEOC), made the announcement to boos and insults.

“There’s a review underway of an allocation of a certain list of electors that needs to be resolved because it may have an impact on electoral votes,” Lefton said to the convention crowd.

Lefton said later Saturday that the Ontario PC’s chief electoral officer determined the issue was not statistically significant enough to change the outcome of the leadership race.

Elliott said in her statement at the time that she had won the popular vote and the majority of ridings and claimed there were multiple members assigned to incorrect ridings. By Sunday evening, Elliott had released a statement expressing her confidence in the results and support for Ford.

In his victory speech, Ford thanked his supporters and his family, including his brother, Rob, the former mayor of Toronto and his closest confidant until his death in 2016.

“I will get our party back on track,” Ford said. “To the people of Ontario, I say relief is on its way. And to Kathleen Wynne, I say your days as premier are numbered.”

Ford campaigned as a populist, saying he was running for regular people and fighting against the elites. He said that he would scrap the carbon tax, lower hydro rates, and review the sex-ed curriculum.

Ford replaces Patrick Brown as leader of the party after his abrupt resignation amid sexual misconduct allegations made by two women in late January. Brown has consistently denied the sexual misconduct allegations, and he has given CTV News, the media outlet that first aired them, a libel notice.

Ford, Mulroney, and Granic Allen complained about problems with the voter registration process earlier this week. He said that the leadership vote was “not transparent,” and he alleged select members were not receiving their registration code in time to cast a ballot. He said that he received complaints from some members about the voter registration process being overly complicated.

The LEOC extended the voter registration deadline three times, but these actions did not do enough to prevent allegations of vote suppression and corruption within the party ranks.

Ford, Mulroney, and Granic Allen called for voting to be extended, but Elliott did not want it to be.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Todd Archibald settled the voter registration process issue on Friday, dismissing an injunction application from a disenfranchised party member to extend the leadership vote, making way for the chaotic convention and election of Ford Saturday.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and NDP leader Andrea Horwath congratulated Ford on his win, but Wynne also took a shot at Ford and the PC Party ahead of the provincial election campaign.

(Header photo courtesy of Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

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