Christine Elliott, a former Whitby-Oshawa PC MPP and more recently the provincial patient ombudsman, is set to enter the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership race.
Elliott said in a short message on Twitter Thursday afternoon, “I’m in. #pcpo #onpoli.”
In an interview with 640 Toronto on Friday morning, Elliott said she wanted to become PC leader to “show Ontarians that we are ready to form government.”
“I feel strongly that I am the one that’s going to be able to beat Kathleen Wynne,” she added.
Elliott said she is still considering where she would seek the PC nomination, but would soon make an announcement.
LISTEN: Christine Elliott joins The Morning Show on 640 Toronto
Sources told Global News that Elliott’s candidacy will not affect Caroline Mulroney‘s and Rod Phillips‘ prospective leadership bids. The sources said both are getting ready to announce their bids soon.
WATCH: The race is about to get bigger, as Caroline Mulroney and Rod Phillips have also expressed intent in throwing their name into the hat. Kamil Karamali reports
As of Thursday, the only other declared leadership candidate is former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford.
Ford and Mulroney said on Twitter Thursday evening that they welcomed Elliott’s entry into the race.
“As I said, I respect my opponents. I look forward to talking about positive ideas for a stronger @OntarioPCParty and how were going to beat @Kathleen_Wynne,” Ford wrote.
“We need more strong women like @celliottability in politics. Great to see her in the race, looking forward to working with her and candidates across the province to take back Ontario from Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals,” Mulroney tweeted.
Phillips called Elliott’s announcement is “great news” for the party.
“@celliottability is a strong candidate for leader of the party,” he tweeted, adding he will have “more to say in the coming days.”
The race was triggered after Patrick Brown suddenly resigned last week amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
PC Party officials said Thursday prospective candidates must register with the party by Feb. 16, with the vote set to begin a few weeks later. The voting results are scheduled to be announced on March 10.
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.
Elliott, who is also the 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 62-year-old first took office in 2006 after winning a byelection to replace Flaherty, who was elected to federal Parliament. She was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2014.
Elliott became Ontario’s first patient ombudsman in 2016 after resigning her seat in August 2015.
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.
Phillips is the former chair of Postmedia and past president and CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. He was nominated in November as the PC candidate for Ajax.
— With files from Alan Carter, David Shum and The Canadian Press