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Ontario Conservative Party Leadership Race: What You Need to Know About Each Candidate

Edited by: Jina Aryaan

 

As Ontario neared election season, the Conservative Party seemed poised to unseat the Liberal minority. Polls showed that voters across the province were frustrated with Kathleen Wynne and looking for change. In December, Ipsos reported that 36% of voters would prefer Patrick Brown of the Ontario Conservatives while 28% of voters would prefer the incumbent, Kathleen Wynne, as their premier. However, the momentum carrying the Conservatives came to an abrupt halt when CTV News aired a story in which two unnamed women made allegations of sexual assault and other misconduct against Brown dating back to his time as a federal member of parliament in late January. Shortly afterwards, Brown stepped down as leader to focus on clearing his name and a Conservative Party leadership race was initiated. Here’s a look at the potential leaders of the Ontario Conservative Party:

Note: Brown briefly joined the candidate race to reclaim his position as leader, but withdrew his candidature six days later, citing that the race has caused difficulties for his family and that his presence in the race has served as a distraction from discussion about policy.

In anticipation of the future elections, here’s a look at the potential leaders of the Ontario Conservative Party:

Caroline Mulroney

Caroline Mulroney, the daughter of Canada’s 18th Prime Minister, was acclaimed as the Conservative candidate for York-Simcoe in September. Before entering politics, she has worked as a lawyer and hedge fund manager. Though she is new to politics, her campaign team (made up of 50% women) has reported that she has found supporters in a younger demographic that want to see a new face in Queen’s Park and an older demographic that remembers the senior Mulroney.

Christine Elliott

Christine Elliott is the candidate with the most experience in provincial politics. She was an MPP from 2006 to 2015, and has served as deputy leader and health critic during her time at Queen’s Park. She resigned in 2015 after losing to Brown in the most recent Conservative leadership vote, but in the time since then, she has served as Ontario’s patient ombudsman, hearing and investigating complaints from patients across the province. This places her in a unique position to challenge Kathleen Wynne on healthcare policies.

Doug Ford

Doug Ford is a Torontonian businessman and politician who served as a City Councillor for Ward 2 Etobicoke North from 2010 to 2014. Ford has situated himself strongly as a populist candidate who is willing to challenge the elites at Queen’s Park and within his own party. Ford is relying heavily on the family brand of ‘Ford Nation’—embracing his late brother, Rob Ford’s, tumultuous legacy—that champions efficient government and lower taxes. Ford has concrete policy accomplishments to tout on the campaign trail including the elimination of an unpopular city tax and cost-cutting measures in municipal government, such as the privatization of garbage pick-up and disposal.

Tanya Granic Allen

Tanya Granic Allen is the most socially conservative candidate in the race as the president of Parents as First Educators (PAFE), a group that opposes expansion of the sex education curriculum. She also sits on the board of the Catholic Civil Rights League, a conservative Catholic lobby group. Though she has often been described as a single-issue candidate, Allen has also taken strong positions for fiscal restraint and against a federally imposed carbon tax. Additionally, she is the only candidate to decisively deny predecessor Patrick Brown the right to run as a member of the party. However, she states that this decision is not motivated by the sexual assault allegations; rather, she alleges that Brown has been a corrupt leader.

Megan Pham-Quan is a philosophy major at the University of Toronto who is currently studying on the U of T National Scholarship. She is passionate about LGBTQ rights, feminism, other forms of advocacy, and politics.
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