New Ontario PC Leader

The Top Line

The Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) Party has selected Doug Ford as their Leader.  Ford won on the third ballot of the Party’s Leadership race, with 50.6% of the total points available, besting runner-up Christine Elliott by 1.2%.  The result was announced by the Party after a lengthy delay caused by complaints about vote discrepancies. After reviewing the concerns raised, Party officials, in consultation with auditors, determined that the discrepancies were not enough to affect the final outcome and the results were made official.

As of Noon Sunday, Ms. Elliott has not conceded the race and has challenged the results. In a statement released after the results were made public, Elliott claims that she won the popular vote and the majority of ridings – and that there were enough votes assigned to incorrect ridings to affect the results of the Party’s point allocation system. Having declared the results official last night, it is unknown how or when the PC Party will respond to Ms. Elliott’s statement.

Tanya Granic Allen and Caroline Mulroney dropped off the first and second ballots respectively, having achieved the lowest number of points in each ballot.

New Leader’s Next Steps

If Ms. Elliott continues to challenge the official outcome, the tumult surrounding the PC Party will continue to mount.

Assuming that Mr. Ford’s victory stands, with less than three months to go before the Ontario General Election, his first task will be to try and unify the Party after an extremely close and contentious conclusion to the Leadership race. He will be under immediate pressure to convince Ms. Elliott to remain within the tent and run as a candidate in the upcoming election.

Simultaneously, he will need to work quickly to build a campaign team and rebrand the PC election platform. The previous platform, named the “People’s Guarantee,” will require changes in light of some of Mr. Ford’s policy positions during the Leadership race.

The most significant change will be on carbon pricing. The $2.4 billion a year in government revenue that the tax is projected to drive by 2021 accounts for much of the promised spending in the People’s Guarantee. But all leadership candidates, and in particular Mr. Ford, campaigned against taxing carbon.

With six sitting weeks remaining for the Ontario legislature, Mr. Ford will also need to decide how to staff the PC Party’s Queen’s Park offices, whether to make changes to the critic portfolios, and whether MPP Vic Fedeli or someone else should lead the caucus in the legislature until the House rises for the Provincial election.

Mr. Ford will also need to evaluate and fill out the PC Party staff and oversee the remaining candidate nominations. The Party’s nominations process became controversial under former leader Patrick Brown, after calls that several meetings were being conducted unfairly.

What This Means for You

Recent polls have indicated that the PC Party has a healthy lead over the Liberal Party and the NDP. However, to solidify that front-runner position, Mr. Ford needs to find a way to move past the disorganization and discord that has challenged the PC Party over the past month and a half. That will be critical to convincing Ontario voters that the revamped PC Party is ready to form the next Government.

The electoral landscape will become clearer still after the Government tables Budget 2018 on March 28th, which will be a blueprint for the Liberal Party’s re-election efforts.

TSA consultants will be monitoring and engaging with the PC Party, its Leader’s Office, members, candidates, and campaign team from now through Election Day, and will be available as required for consultation and discussion. TSA will publish full Ontario Election coverage, following all of the major parties.