Former Toronto councillor Doug Ford says he will run for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, announcing his bid days after Patrick Brown stepped down amid sexual misconduct allegations.
Ford said he wants to prevent the party from falling into the hands of “insiders” and “elites” and that it needs strong leadership.
“I have been deeply troubled by what I have seen recently unfolding within the PC Party,” Ford told reporters in Etobicoke, a district in the west end of Toronto.
“Lifelong supporters have been watching in horror as it falls into complete disarray. We have seen backroom politics at its worst, insiders trying to politically capitalize at the expense of the people, elites who are disconnected from the grassroots of the party and don’t care about the average struggles of Ontarians.”
Ford said he would be the candidate to “clean up the mess” and change the “hostile environment” of the party.
“This is truly a critical moment for our party, for our people and for the future of our province,” he said.
Ford, who took no questions, noted that “the elites” of the party “do not want me in this race.”
Ford ran unsuccessfully for Toronto mayor in September 2014, losing to John Tory. He also served as councillor for Ward 2, Etobicoke North, from 2010 to 2014, while his brother Rob Ford was mayor.
Rob Ford died in March 2016, following a battle with cancer, while serving again as a councillor.
Ford’s announcement that he will be mounting a leadership campaign comes as the Ontario PC party tries to navigate a period of significant upheaval.
Last Wednesday, Brown resigned as PC leader following a report of allegations of sexual misconduct from two women. Brown denies the allegations and they have not been proven in court.
Vic Fedeli, the MPP for Nipissing, was named interim leader later in the week.
Fedeli has also said he would seek to be leader after serving in an interim role. Usually, interim leaders are barred from such a move, but the PC caucus has waived that in this case.
On Sunday evening, Rick Dykstra stepped down as party president, hours before Maclean’s magazine published a story alleging he had sexually assaulted a parliamentary staffer in Ottawa when he was an MP in 2014.
CBC Toronto has not independently confirmed the allegations against Dykstra, and they have not been proven in court.
Other names being floated as possible candidates include:
- MPP Lisa MacLeod.
- MPP Monte McNaughton.
- Christine Elliot, former Ontario PC leadership candidate.
- Caroline Mulroney, PC candidate in York-Simcoe.
- John Baird, former federal minister of foreign affairs.