PC Leader Doug Ford speaks to reporters while on a stop in London, March 5, 2018. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

It’s Ford – Ontario PC Party Names New Leader

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives named their new leader after a tumultuous day.

Doug Ford, a former Toronto city councillor, was named the new leader of the Ontario PC Party on the third ballot, following a day of uncertainty at the PC leadership convention in Markham.

Ford now has the task of rallying the Ontario Tories to beat the majority Liberals, led by Premier Kathleen Wynne, in the June provincial election.

The result was announced after a very chaotic day at the Hilton Convention Centre. The session convened in early afternoon with the result of the leadership race expected to be announced around 3pm.

Initial reports named Ford as the winner, though BlackburnNews.com did not announce the result until after party officials confirmed it later Saturday night.

However, with the vote close and a dispute brewing over ballots allocated to a certain riding, rival Christine Elliott had asked for a recount.

When the result was still not announced around 7:30pm, Hartley Lefton, chairman of the party’s leadership election committee, told the crowd there would not be an announcement of a winner at that time and asked the attendees to go home, since the venue was needed for another event. The crowd booed and filed out.

Final vote totals were announced at a press conference shortly after 10pm Saturday. Ford finished with a total of 6,202 electoral votes, while Elliott ended up with 6,049.

Lefton said at the press conference that the issue was not large enough to sway the outcome of the election.

Social conservative activist Tanya Granic Allen finished last on the first ballot and was the first candidate to be eliminated. Businesswoman Caroline Mulroney dropped off the second ballot, leaving Ford and Elliott in a winner-take-all third ballot.

Ford, 53, served on Toronto City Council from 2010 to 2014, at the same time his brother, Rob Ford, served as mayor of Toronto. When Rob Ford’s term ended in November 2014, Doug Ford ran to succeed him but finished second to John Tory.

The leadership vote climaxed a topsy-turvy, whirlwind election campaign, begun six weeks ago when PC leader Patrick Brown abruptly resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct.

A CTV News investigation revealed women claiming that Brown behaved inappropriately with them. Brown has denied the allegations and announced he would sue CTV over the report. The network stands behind its story.

Brown entered the campaign in an effort to regain his old job, but he dropped out, citing a desire to focus on clearing his name.

Vic Fedeli was chosen as acting party leader by the PC caucus after Brown’s resignation and will remain in that position until after the June elections. Fedeli declined to stand for the permanent leadership.

Ford is currently seeking the nomination as the PC candidate in the Etobicoke North riding.