Caroline Mulroney to run for Ontario PC leadership, reports suggest

Ontario PC interim leader Vic Fedeli.
THE CANADIAN PRESS  Frank Gunn

Ontario PC interim leader Vic Fedeli. THE CANADIAN PRESS Frank Gunn

Two new candidates will be vying for the Ontario PC Party leadership. His resignation came just months before a spring election.

"I think we're looking at a situation where we are going to have a lot of candidates and be talking to Conservatives about who can unify this party and beat Kathleen Wynne", he said.

Elliott "is immediately focused on connecting directly with grassroots members to talk about the issues that matter most to our party and the future of Ontario", Paradis said.

All three are seeking to replace Patrick Brown, who resigned as party leader January 25 after denying allegations of sexual impropriety dating back years.

She was considered the front-runner in the 2015 race and lost to the up-start Brown, who began the race as a relatively unknown back-bench MP in the Harper federal government.

Elliott, 62, is now the province's medial patient ombudsman and the wife of late Jim Flaherty, who served as federal finance minister in Stephen Harper's government from 2006 to 2014. She joins Doug Ford as the only two people to confirm their bids to become leader.

"With all due respect to Christine, she's done this twice and retired and taken a Liberal patronage appointment", said the Mulroney insider, referring to Elliott's unsuccessful leadership bids in 2009 and 2015 and her current role as Ontario's patient ombudsman.

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Mulroney's camp tried to paint Elliott as a throwback when the party needs to look forward.

Mulroney, vice-president of an investment firm and daughter of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, was named as the PC nominee for the riding of York-Simcoe in September. The 52-year-old Tory candidate for Ajax also praised Ms. Elliott as a strong candidate for leader. The results will be announced March 10.

Party executives laid out the rules that will govern the race to replace Brown late Wednesday night. Each candidate's campaign spending can not exceed $750,000.

Would-be contenders must jump into the race no later than February 16 and they have until this same date to sign up new party members who will then be eligible to vote through a secure remote electronic system, beginning on March 2 and concluding at 9 p.m. on March 8.

"We have nearly 30-35 days, so that is one of the best options in front of us, so it will be mostly electronic voting", party president Jag Badwal told Wednesday night after a meeting of the party's executive.

Campaign sources tell CityNews Caroline Mulroney will announce in the coming days that she's running. Tory MPPs chose Vic Fedeli as interim leader last week and recommended to the executive that Mr. Fedeli take the party into the election.

She is expected to make a formal announcement on Monday. The Tories also had to deal with party president Rick Dykstra leaving his post on Sunday amid a separate allegation reported by Maclean's magazine.

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