Doug Ford has officially been elected the new leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party following a chaotic evening where party leaders questioned the election results.
The populist leader and brother of the late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford won on the third ballot in a four-way race. Several sources declared Ford the winner earlier Saturday evening before runner-up Christine Elliot contested the result. The candidates went behind closed doors for almost five hours without any explanation from party officials.
Elliot’s objections were overruled.
The delay and confusion infuriated Ford supporters, many of whom booed an announcement earlier in the evening that a decision would not be forthcoming and everyone had to vacate the Markham, Ontario auditorium where the convention was held.
The party executive finally made the announcement at 10:10 p.m., surprising most major Canadian media.
Ford graciously accepted the win.
“Tonight is a clear sign that there is a lot of work ahead of us…But I promise you this: I will get our party back on track and we will put a platform forward that speaks to every Ontarian,” he said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Ontario will be open for business.”
“To the people of Ontario I say, ‘relief is on its way.’”
Ford supporters went to their social media after being told to go home, expressing outrage over the delay.
Former provincial cabinet minister and prominent Doug Ford supporter Frank Klees spoke to reporters after the announcement, saying the contest had been “botched.” He demanded the immediate resignation of the party executive for running an incompetent leadership race.
“I’m disgusted and embarrassed for our party,” he said.
Ford is well positioned to become the next premier of Ontario in an election planned for June 7. The Official Opposition Conservatives are running an average of 20 percentage points above the governing Liberals in current polling.