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Doug Ford opts out of PC leadership race


Doug Ford opts out of PC leadership race

Controversial Toronto city councillor Doug Ford announced Thursday he would not join the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race, something he’d been talking about since he finished a strong second in the city’s mayoral race last month.

Ford told reporters gathered for the announcement at the family’s business — Deco Labels — that he had received a lot of support and encouragement, but decided not to become the sixth candidate in the PC race.

“It’s been the most difficult of my entire life,” he said, “tougher than deciding whether or not to run for mayor, run for council, any decision I’ve ever made, this by far was the toughest.”

Ontario is “in a financial mess,” but the PCs already have five strong candidates to replace Tim Hudak, who resigned after the Liberals won the June 12 election, said Ford.

“I’m going to support each and every one of them,” he said. “I’ll be instrumental in helping them day in and day out to get this province back on track.”

Ford said he was endorsing Christine Elliott, the party’s deputy leader and the widow of former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty, who had close ties with the Ford family.

The other declared candidates are MPPs Vic Fedeli, Lisa MacLeod and Monte McNaughton and federal MP Patrick Brown.

Ford, 50, apologized to those who had encouraged him to run, and left the door open to being a PC candidate in the 2018 election the Toronto riding that was represented by his father, Doug Ford Sr., for one term in the late 1990s.

“Maybe one day I’ll be serving ’em as MPP,” he said. “I haven’t made up my mind.”

Ford, the older brother of outgoing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, finished a strong second to John Tory in last month’s mayoral election, pulling more than 330,000 votes after stepping in as a last-minute candidate to replace his brother, who was diagnosed with cancer.

Ford said he wanted to bring his supporters to the PC party, which has fallen to just 10,000 members and didn’t win a single seat in the city in the June election, to help broaden its base.

“I always remind the PC party that over 80 per cent of the 330,000 votes that I ended up receiving would never and have never voted PC before,” he said. “I’ll be out there campaigning aggressively, bringing the Ford Nation base, as many as we can, over to the PC party and making sure that the PC party changes their ways.”

Some Conservatives had said Ford would be a real game changer in the so-far sleepy race to replace Hudak and would have helped generate some excitement and more media coverage.

Conservative members will vote either May 3 or May 7 on the new leader, and the results will be announced May 9 at the party’s leadership convention in Toronto.

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