Usually a provincial PC convention is not a big news story, political junkies talking inside baseball.
So far his time in office has been filled with controversy and major news. From cutting Toronto City Council in half during an election to the accusation the Liberal’s carried out the worst political and financial cover up in Ontario’s history, to the ousting of former Trade Minister Jim Wilson and top aide Andrew Kimber, and the publication of former leader Patrick Brown’s bombshell tell-all, members attending will have a lot to discuss.
Premier Doug Ford addressed party members at the Toronto Congress Centre, where the convention is taking place, Friday evening.
“Working hard, working together, we made history. We overcame the impossible. We overcame the critics, the naysayers,” Ford said.
“We overcame 15 years of Liberal scandals, 15 years of mismanagement and waste. And together, we beat the NDP.”
Ford’s speech comes a day after his finance minister delivered the fall economic statement and faced questions about allegations of sexual misconduct laid out in Brown’s book.
Fedeli slammed the claim saying, “There is no validity whatsoever to any of these allegations. Any accusation or insinuation to the contrary is false and malicious.”
Ford praised Fedeli Friday evening, saying Fedeli is “one of the most honourable men” he has ever worked with.
Minister Lisa MacLeod was also targeted in the book.
She released a statement Thursday which reads in part: “The comments made by the former leader of the opposition regarding my battle with mental health in his book are disgusting and cruel.”
Sources told Global News both MacLeod and Fedeli will be at the convention. It is unclear if Brown, who is the new mayor of Brampton, will also attend.
On Friday, the Ontario Federation of Labour released a statement saying they would be at the convention to protest.
“Since taking office, Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party have made cuts to social assistance, cancelled important health curriculum, and are planning to take away basic workplace rights that workers won in the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act of 2017, including the upcoming increase to a $15 minimum wage, by passing Bill 47.”
Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario said in the statement, “As education professionals we see the harsh impact poverty has on children when families live paycheck to paycheck. ETFO adds its voice to the majority of what Ontarians already support and with the WE the People Action, we are sending a message to this government to withdraw Bill 47 and invest in public services.”
The convention marks the end of the current party executive.
Outgoing Regional Vice President Justin Van Dette said he’s looking forward to meeting his fellow members.
“I think this is a great opportunity for all of our party members to come together and celebrate the great success we had earlier this year in electing Ontario’s government for the people led by Premier Doug Ford,” Van Dette told Global News.
He added the past year has been wrought with challenges.
“We faced significant struggles and challenges probably more than any other executive in my recent memory and I’ve been on the executive for 14 years,” he said.
“This was probably the most challenging year because we were dealing with a problem with the previous leader who left, all this of course was unexpected, a lot of the party at that time was very much still being run by volunteers, but I think the entire executive worked very hard and did an excellent job under the circumstances.”
Federal leader Andrew Scheer is also scheduled to speak at the convention on Saturday.
— With files from Nick Westoll