In The News This Week: The Ontario PC Leadership Race

Dominating Canadian news headlines for the past week and a half has been the fate of the Ontario PC Party – first with serious sexual misconduct allegations, and now with a brand new party leadership race. Headlines first exploded on January 24, when allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced from two different women against the then leader of the party, Patrick Brown. Both allegations were reported through CTV News, and more fulsome details can be found in this article.

In case you missed it, Patrick Brown resigned the morning after the allegations were reported, but he has also strongly denied the allegations, calling them “categorically untrue.” After the allegations first came to light, and before Brown himself had announced his resignation, a number of his closest advisors resigned, including his campaign manager, chief of staff, and deputy manager (CBC). Amidst the powerful #MeToo movement, which I hope will propel a strong and lasting tidal wave of change across all workplaces and industries, it was reassuring to witness such a strong response from the Ontario PC Party. The message, I think, was strong and clear: yes, due process is important, but no, you absolutely cannot be our leader based on the accusations that have come to light. Unfortunately, the same standards seem to not have been upheld in light of accusations against Rick Dystra in 2015 (Maclean’s).

Over the past week, the news frame has shifted, moving away from the accusations against Mr. Brown and focusing instead on the party’s brand new leadership campaign. The leadership election will officially be held on March 10, 2018, making it one of the shortest campaigns in the party’s recent memory (The Globe and Mail). So far, the following candidates have officially announced their campaigns:

  • Doug Ford: As the first to announce his candidacy, the former City Councillor has pledged to keep taxes low, promised not to implement a carbon tax, and has accused Premier Wynne’s government of being “out of touch” with Ontarians. For more details, check out this CBC article.
  • Christine Elliot: As a former MPP and two-time leadership contender, Elliot says she is “ready to go” and has the experience to “hit the ground running.” Elliot has said that the focus of her campaign will coalesce with the platform already put forward by Patrick Brown. For more information, the CBC once again has you covered.

According to reports, Caroline Mulroney, daughter of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, will officially join the leadership race on Monday. Here is a link to her Twitter account if you’re interested in following along! All candidates must register by February 16 (Global News).

Although the PC Party initially debated whether to hold a leadership campaign, the decision was a sound one. From a media strategy perspective, the onset of the campaign has completely shifted the narrative – the focus is no longer on Patrick Brown and Rick Dystra, but is on the new leadership candidates, the rumoured candidates, and their respective platforms, experience and endorsements. Despite the short timeframe, the leadership campaign could actually end up benefiting the Ontario PC’s. It will inevitably dominate media coverage in the months ahead, and in so doing, could heighten engagement and interest amongst the Ontario electorate. In the meantime, we at mPolitics will follow along across the pond with great interest!

Authored By: Emma McKay, Co-Founder & Editor, mPolitics

What do you guys think about the PC leadership race? Are you excited about any of the official, or potential, candidates? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, Patrick Brown. Source: CBC News 

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