Former Toronto city councillor and brother of the late former mayor Rob Ford said on Monday that he will run for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, as the provincial party falls into chaos ahead of an election.
Mr. Ford, who lost a mayoral race to John Tory in 2014, said he aims to prevent the party from being taken over by political “insiders” and “elites”, but rather needs strong leadership the millionaire Toronto native believes he can provide.
In a tone near similar to then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016, Ford said he would work as a candidate to “clean up the mess”, in an effort to change the “hostile environment” of the Ontario PC Party.
Ford told reporters gathered in Etobicoke that “lifelong” PC supporters “have been watching in horror as it falls into complete disarray.”
“We have seen backroom politics at its worst, insiders trying to politically capitalize at the expense of the people, elites who are disconnected from the grassroots of the party and don’t care about the average struggles of Ontarians,” Ford said.
Ford’s announcement makes him the only other candidate in the running for PC leader besides interim Vic Fedeli, who became leader after former leader Patrick Brown resigned over sexual misconduct allegations from two anonymous women.
Mr. Fedeli, the Member of Provincial Parliament for Nipissing, was named temporary party leader last week following a CTV News exclusive where two anonymous women accused Mr. Brow of sexual misconduct.
Usually interim party leaders are blocked from making a move to run but the PC caucus waived the rule in his case, likely due to the suddenness of the situation and the need for a leader just months before the June provincial election.
Doug Ford’s declaration comes as the Progressive Conservatives turn into chaos, with top leadership being shuffled almost on a daily basis since Brown was thrown from his leader position on Jan. 24 due to the accusations the night before.
Just on Sunday night party President Rick Dykstra resigned from his post hours before an exclusive Maclean’s magazine story was published detailing allegations that he had sexually assaulted a parliamentary staffer while an MP in 2014.
Two women came forward with graphic sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Brown, according to an exclusive by CTV News that was not yet aired before Brown held a press conference.
The allegations, which have not been proven in court and Brown vehemently denies, date back to when he was a federal Member of Parliament.
In the brief presser that started shortly before 9:50 p.m., Brown made it clear the allegations were false, saying he plans to “defend myself as hard as I can, with all the means at my disposal.”
“I can’t speculate on the motive of my accusers, I can only they what they are saying is categorically untrue.”
There are others being presented as potential runners, with Canadian media reporting that five others have the political capital to take a shot.
These include: MPP Lisa MacLeod, MPP Monte McNaughton, former leadership candidate Christine Elliot, PC candidate in York-Simcoe Caroline Mulroney, and former foreign affairs minister under Stephen Harper and current MP John Baird.
More details to follow. Image of Doug Ford with late brother Rob Ford in the background from Metro News.