Hours after being named the new Ontario PC Party leader, Doug Ford says he is focused on defeating Kathleen Wynne and only wishes rival Christine Elliot the best, despite the candidate voicing concern over irregularities in the voting.
Ford made his first public appearance, at Toronto’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, since being announced as leader. He was all smiles as he walked along Bloor Street shaking hands with parade-goers, many congratulating him on his win.
Ford was announced as leader late Saturday night, seven hours later than the winner was originally scheduled to be heard at a convention centre in Markham, Ont. Party President Jag Badwal said Ford narrowly eked out the win over former provincial legislator Christine Elliott on the third ballot. Elliott finished 153 points behind Ford on the final ballot.
Toronto lawyer Caroline Mulroney placed third, while social conservative advocate Tanya Granic Allen finished last.
Elliot has refused to concede the leadership to Ford, however, issuing a statement Saturday night citing “serious irregularities with respect to this leadership race.”
WATCH: Doug Ford announced as new leader of the Ontario PC Party
The statement claimed that there were three key points that were widely known: that Elliott won the popular vote, won the majority of ridings, and that the difference in electoral points between herself and Ford amounted to less than 150 out of a total of 12,000 points included in the final calculations.
“More importantly, thousands of members have been assigned to incorrect ridings. For example, Mount Hope, inside of Hamilton, had its members assigned to Chatham-Kent, several hundred kilometres away,” the statement read.
“Our scrutineers identified entire towns voting in the wrong riding. In a race this close, largely determined by geography, someone needs to stand up for these members. I will stand up for these members and plan to investigate the extent of the discrepancy.”
The party said, however, that Ford’s win was definitive. It noted that there had been an issue with the allocation of certain electoral votes but the matter was reviewed and resolved.
“These results are definitive and provide a clear mandate to Doug Ford as outlined in our party constitution and the leadership election rules,” said Hartley Lefton, chair of the party’s leadership election organizing committee.
WATCH: Kathleen Wynne, Andrea Horwath react to Doug Ford’s new role as PC leader
When asked about Elliott’s concerns at the parade, Ford said he wishes her the best and that “we’re focused on Kathleen Wynne right now.”
“We’re going to work hard and we’re going to bring prosperity back to Ontario.”
Meanwhile support from other party members came flooding in for Ford.
“Congratulations for a strong campaign and an even stronger finish,” Former PC Leader Tim Hudak tweeted. “And congrats to his family who stood behind him or cheered him on from above.”
Mulroney tweeted her congratulations along with the message, “Today, we leave this convention united with one common goal, finally firing Kathleen Wynne.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory congratulated Ford in a statement, and pledged to work with him for the betterment of the city.
“I will be reaching out to Mr. Ford to arrange a meeting to discuss Toronto’s needs,” Tory said. “I also want to commend the rest of the candidates on a spirited contest.
“Toronto is the province’s largest city and its economic engine. I will be meeting with all the provincial party leaders to ensure they understand the city’s unique needs and what Toronto requires to continue to grow and prosper.”
Current premier and Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne responded to the results of the election while speaking at the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation’s annual general meeting at the Sheraton Centre on Sunday.
“Quite frankly, it actually doesn’t matter which of the candidates was chosen last night. Because if we look at the platform that they were sensibly running on, there were billions of dollars of cuts that were going to come forward,” she said.
“We’ve absolutely seen this movie before, whether it was Doug Ford or Christine Elliot or Tanya Granic Allen or Caroline Mulroney, they all were supporting a platform that would have taken billions of dollars out of public sector workers.”
More than 64,000 votes were cast in the hastily organized leadership race.
The contest was launched in late January after former leader Patrick Brown resigned abruptly amid allegations of sexual misconduct, which he has denied.
Ford said his focus this week will be getting his team together.
“We’ll have some meetings and we’ll have a strong game plan moving forward for the people of Ontario.”