With three declared candidates vying to lead the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, Christine Elliott says her past provincial political experience makes her the best choice.
“I’m ready to go. I’ve had the experience at Queen’s Park. I’ve been a MPP, I know how things work and with all due respect to the other candidates, they don’t have that,” Elliott told Global News anchor Alan Carter during a one-on-one interview Monday.
“I’m ready to go right now and we don’t have a lot of time between now and the next election.”
Elliott, a former Whitby-Oshawa PC MPP and more recently the provincial patient ombudsman, said on Thursday she is entering the Ontario PC Party leadership race. Her bid to become leader is the third time she has sought to lead the party and she will be going up against Doug Ford and Caroline Mulroney.
“I feel that this is a time when Ontarians are looking for change,” Elliott said when asked why she is running for the position again.
“They don’t like the Liberal government, we need to elect a PC government and I felt that I had to come back because I strongly believe that I’m the one that can beat Kathleen Wynne.”
The race was triggered after Patrick Brown suddenly resigned on Jan. 25 after sexual misconduct allegations were brought against him by two women. Elliott said given the circumstances of the allegations, which have not been proven in court, a woman should become the next party leader.
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“Usually, I’m of the view that it should be the person who is the best, but I think in this case, given some of the allegations that have been made, that I think the people of Ontario are looking to see that the Ontario PC Party understands the concerns and sensitives,” she said.
“I do think it’s important to have a woman lead the party at this time.”
Carter subsequently asked Elliott if that means Ford shouldn’t be the party leader based on his gender.
“Well no, not based on his gender, but I think that in this circumstance, it is an important consideration. But people will decide, it’s not up to me, it’s up to the members,” she said.
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Elliott said she has known Ford for a long time and welcomed his candidacy, but said her previous roles make her stand out.
“Mr. Ford has been a member of our family for a long time, so we’re putting forward our different ideas,” she said.
“But I think at the end of the day, it’s the experience I have at Queen’s Park that really makes the difference.”
When asked about those who are calling for the next leader to be new to the party, Elliott said she is a fresh face.
“All of the [leadership] candidates are from outside of the caucus. I’ve had the experience for the past two years of learning a lot about health care in particular,” she said.
Elliott resigned her seat in August 2015 and was subsequently appointed Ontario’s first patient ombudsman by the Wynne government. When asked by Carter if it would be difficult to criticize the government after the appointment, Elliott said it wouldn’t be.
“I’ve always been independent in my thought. Ms. Wynne and I have clashed when we were at Queen’s Park before,” she said.
“It’s a difference of ideas, it’s not about personality and that’s what I want to do is to bring the PC ideas forward to the people of Ontario, which I think are very compelling and to form the next government.”
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Carter asked if Elliott would support the People’s Guarantee, the party’s existing election platform.
“All of the substantive issues except for one — and that’s the carbon tax,” she said, acknowledging the party would need the funds generated by the tax to fund other policy planks.
“Because I’m personally opposed to the carbon tax and I know a lot of our members are as well, I want to put it to our membership — give them some alternatives to say, ‘We have to choose something, so which one is it that you want?’ … There are other alternatives and that’s what we’re looking at right now.”
The new leader of the Ontario PC Party will be announced on March 10.
— With files from Kayla McLean
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