With a provincial election just months away, the Ontario PCs are scrambling to find a leader who can defeat the Kathleen Wynne-led Liberals.
In an email to the party’s legislators sent last night, PC Party President Rick Dykstra says he has requested, and MPPs have agreed, to select an interim leader on Friday.
Dykstra says that interim leader will serve until a new leader is picked in a leadership election, according to the party’s constitution.
It’s not clear from Dykstra’s message when that leadership election will take place.
According to the Ontario PC constitution, upon the death, retirement or resignation of the leader, and until the completion of the leadership election, “the Caucus shall elect an interim Leader who shall be recognized as the Leader by the Party.”
If the Caucus is unable to select an interim leader, a joint meeting of the caucus and the executive will then make the selection.
Here are the possible candidates who could become the next Ontario PC party leader.
The MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex ran for the Ontario PC party leadership in 2015 but later bowed out and endorsed Patrick Brown. The 40-year-old from Newbury, Ont., was a former city councillor for his hometown and served three terms. He ran as a PC candidate in the 2007 Ontario election and placed second behind Liberal Maria Van Bommel. McNaughton defeated his rival in 2011 by more than 6,000 votes and was re-elected in 2014. He currently serves as official opposition critic for economic development and growth. He is also the chair of the Standing Committee on Legislative Assembly.
The MPP for Nepean-Carleton also ran for the Ontario PC party leadership in 2015. She would later abandon her leadership bid to throw her support behind Christine Elliott. It was rumoured MacLeod would try to replace John Baird after he resigned his seat in the House of Commons on Feb. 2, 2015, but ultimately decided to stay at Queen’s Park. She was first elected to the Ontario legislature in a byelection in 2006. She continued to represent her riding after the 2007, 2011, 2014 provincial elections. MacLeod is currently the PC critic for the Anti-Racism Secretariat and the Treasury Board.
Elliott, widow of former federal and Ontario finance minister Jim Flaherty, was the perceived frontrunner to replace Tim Hudak as the Ontario PC leader when she lost the race to Patrick Brown in 2015. The former Ontario PC deputy leader who represents Whitby-Oshawa had been the Tories’ health critic before she resigned following the leadership defeat. Elliott was appointed Ontario’s first patient ombudsman in 2015 and officially took the post on July 1, 2016. The 62-year-old first took office in 2006 after winning a byelection to replace her husband who was elected to federal Parliament.
She was re-elected in 2007 and again in 2011 and 2014.
The Progressive Conservative MPP for Nipissing is the party’s current finance critic. Born and raised in North Bay, Fedeli became the city’s mayor in 2003 and was re-elected in 2006. He took office at Queen’s Park in 2011 and was re-elected in 2014. Fedeli was the PC’s energy critic under former leader Tim Hudak. He was credited with putting pressure on the Liberals during the government’s gas plant scandal. Fedeli was also in the running for the Ontario PC party leadership in 2015 but dropped out to support Christine Elliott.
The Leeds-Grenville MPP is a co-deputy leader of the PC party along with Sylvia Jones. Clark served as mayor of Brockville from 1982 to 1991 and was first elected mayor when he was just 22. He was first elected MPP in a byelection in 2010. He was subsequently re-elected in 2011 and 2014. Clark also serves as the deputy house leader and the critic for Ethics and Accountability.
The Dufferin-Caledon MPP is a co-deputy leader of the PC party. Jones was first elected in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011 and 2014. During her years in office, she also served as the PC critic for Child and Youth Services. She is also the current PC critic on Infrastructure.
—With a file from The Canadian Press