The Ontario PC Party leadership race: Where do MPPs and MPs stand?

Christine Elliott
Christine Elliott announces she is running for the Ontario PC party leader flanked by three of the seven caucus colleagues who have already declared their support for her. They are, from left, Norm Miller, Sylvia Jones, and Michael Harris. (Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

Usually, though not always, it’s helpful for a prospective party leader to have members of the legislative caucus on his or her side, the more usually the merrier.

Alison Redford won the Alberta PC leadership with little or no caucus support (and look what happened). Justin Trudeau won with dominant caucus support (and we’ll see what happens.)

In 2009, Christine Elliott tried to win the Ontario PC leadership. She had decent caucus support but finished third, well behind winner Tim Hudak who had some dominant caucus support. Elliott announced this week she is back for another kick at the can, and this time, she appears to be attempting  a pre-emptive strike by locking up as much caucus support as possible.

She is the only announced contestant at this point with seven of her caucus colleagues on board. That means that, in a caucus of 28 PC MPPs, 8 (including Elliott) are going to vote for her to be leader — better than one-quarter.

Sylvia Jones is the only one of those seven who, as an MPP, supported Elliott then and will do so again now. Norm Miller was an MPP in 2009 but back then he endorsed Hudak. Now he’s endorsing Elliott. The other five were not MPPs in 2009.

Who else among her current caucus colleagues supported Hudak against her in 2009? Bob Bailey; Toby Barrett; Garfield Dunlop; Lisa MacLeod;   Julia Munro;  Jim Wilson; John Yakabuski; Ernie Hardeman. MacLeod is considered a likely rival … [Watch as I interview MacLeod on Battleground on Sun News Network last night]

The rest of the current PC Party caucus at Queen’s Park was either not around as MPPs in 2009 or did not back anyone (or, in the case of Randy Hillier, ran for the leadership, finished 4th, and said he is not running this time.)

In the case of the Ontario PCs, it’s also interesting to see which members of the current federal Conservative caucus jumped into the race. Elliott is the widow of former finance minister Jim Flaherty and many in Stephen Harper’s caucus and cabinet got their start at Queen’s Park.

Moreover, many names from the current Conservative caucus have been bandied about as potential Ontario party leaders. Those include Lisa Raitt, John Baird, Tony Clement, Michael Chong, Rick Dykstra, and Patrick Brown.

Here are are current Conservative MPs  supported Elliott in 2009: Peter Braid, Colin Carrie, Chong, Ed Holder, Greg Rickford, Bruce Stanton, Peter Van Kesteren, Mike Wallace, Jeff Watson and Terence Young. Elliott’s husband, Flaherty, was the only member of the federal cabinet to support her bid for leader.

Other notables who supported Elliott in 2009: A Toronto city councillor named Rob Ford. And Richard Ciano, how is the current president of the Ontario PCs.


It’s worth reviewing who among current federal Conservatives supported Hudak in 2009:  They included cabinet heavyweights Baird, Jason Kenney, Peter Van Loan, Clement, and Rob Nicholson.

Among backbenchers, the following supported Hudak: Gord Brown, Patrick Brown, Paul Calandra, Barry Devolin, Dykstra, Royal Galipeau, Daryl Kramp, Pierre Poilievre, Joe Preston, Gary Schellenberger, and David Sweet.