TORONTO – Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives have laid out the rules that will govern the race to replace Patrick Brown, whose resignation amid allegations of sexual misconduct threw the party off course last week.
Those seeking to take the reins – or help decide who will – must register with the party by Feb. 16, with the vote set to begin a few weeks later.
Under the rules, leadership candidates must submit their paperwork and $100,000 in fees and deposits by the February date, with another $25,000 due later to access the party’s membership list. Each candidate’s campaign spending cannot exceed $750,000, according to the document.
Ontario residents who wish to help select the new Tory leader must become party members by that same date.
Votes will be cast electronically between March 2 and March 8, and the results will be announced March 10, the rules say.
“We have almost 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.
The party’s leadership election organizing committee has said the Tories would stick to a one-member one-vote rule.
Caucus had recommended that the party’s interim leader, Vic Fedeli, stay on through the June election, drawing objections from those who argued the party membership should have a say. The party executive chose to overrule caucus and hold a leadership race before the spring campaign.
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Fedeli announced soon afterwards that he would not be seeking to make his role permanent. Two other legislators considered potential candidates, Monte McNaughton and Lisa MacLeod, have also ruled out a run for the top spot.
So far, only one candidate has thrown his hat in the ring for the leadership.
Former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford, brother of the city’s late former mayor Rob Ford, has vowed to take on what he called the party’s elites and give a voice to the party’s grassroots.
Other potential candidates include Caroline Mulroney, the daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, former Postmedia executive Rod Phillips and PC energy critic Todd Smith.
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The party has been in turmoil since Brown stepped down after vehemently denying sexual misconduct allegations reported by CTV News. The Tories also had to deal with the party’s president leaving his post on Sunday amid a separate allegation of sexual assault reported by Maclean’s magazine. None of the allegations have been verified by The Canadian Press.
Asked how the upheaval in the Opposition would affect the upcoming election, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said what happens with the Tories is outside of her control.
“The Tories will either be energized or depleted by their process, that’s up to them,” she said.
Regardless of who is chosen as leader, there will be a “strong contrast” between the two parties’ policies, she said.