Who is considering a run at the Ontario PC leadership?

I’ve been hitting the phone, email and blackberry PIN asking known PC organizers, student leaders and strategists who’s been calling them “testing the waters”. I’ve learned that there are at least seven people considering a bid for the Ontario PC leadership to succeed John Tory. Here they are:

Tim Hudak: The perceived front-runner for the PC leadership is backed by a number of student/youth leaders, much of the party executive but has shallow support in caucus. Hudak’s people are pushing for an early leadership election (June) in order to deprive oxygen from other rivals who are trying to catch up. Hudak has been billed as a “true-blue conservative” by many of his supporters.

Christine Elliott: MPP from Whitby-Oshawa, lawyer and wife of Canada’s federal Conservative finance minister, Jim Flaherty. Flaherty ran for the PC leadership against John Tory and the organization and team may fall into place should Elliott contest the leadership.

Frank Klees: Among Hudak and Elliott, Klees rounds out the top three frontrunners who are making active and concerted pitchs to potential supporters to form a team for the 2009 leadership race. Klees ran against Tory for leadership in 2004 and served as a cabinet minister under Premier Harris.

Randy Hillier: Hillier is the former president of the Lanark Landowners Association and has represented a defiant conservative streak during his time in the Ontario legislature. The most conservative among the lot, many see a bid by Hillier as principled yet politically untenable. According to my sources, Hillier has been pushing for a later leadership election.

Peter Shurman: One of the only gains during the last election for the Ontario PC, Shurman is the MPP for Thornhill. A former broadcaster and businessman, Shurman has the profile and resources for a serious bid though my sources say that he is testing the waters carefully at this time. (update: Shurman’s out, but was considering this possibility)

Peter van Loan: Yes, the Conservative federal minister for Public Safety is said to be “leaving the door” open for a potential run at the provincial party leadership. PVL is the former president of the PC Party of Ontario, former government House leader for the Conservative government and, in his previous private sector life, he was a successful lawyer in Toronto. Van Loan is a “no guff” style administrator and would likely bring order to a divisive caucus that churned under Tory.

Dean Del Mastro: Del Mastro is the federal Conservative MP from Peterborough and has served in the House of Commons since 2006. Mr. Del Mastro is also allowing talk to circulate about a potential leadership shot to make a bid for the Premier’s office in the next Ontario election. Del Mastro plays the wouded partisan role well and this may be the contrast to John Tory’s approach that Ontario PC partisans are seeking. Del Mastro has been a visible member of the CPC caucus and has done a good job to raise his media profile in the short time he’s been in Parliament. (update: Del Mastro has ruled out a run at leadership but confirmed that he was approached to run the day of John Tory’s resignation)

UPDATE: Shurman says he’s out, Elizabeth Witmer says she’s considering a run.



  • cb

    I'm sure Clement and Flaherty will jump in. Elliott could turn out to be a placeholder for Flaherty. Don't rule out Goodyear or Baird, either, although these Federal ministers would be much more discrete in their canvassing.

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    I'm just reporting who's making calls and not saying no.

  • http://www.bluelikeyou.com/ Joanne (T.B.)

    Did anyone talk to Elizabeth Witmer yet?

  • Anon

    Frank Klees was the originator of the faith based funding idea, was he not?

  • http://www.twitter.com/Josh_Terry JT

    Ugh…. Aside from Hudak and Shurman, not a particularly inspiring lot. I can't say many would inspire me to maintain support for the PC's.

  • A reader

    “Wouded partisan role”? I've been trying to imagine what you intended to type … can you clarify?

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca Stephen Taylor

    ie. everytime a Liberal goes on the attack, he acts like that Liberal shot his dog. “Your comment offends me sir” etc.

  • jsands

    I really hope Shurman goes for it – he's the kind of fresh blood the party needs. He has unrivaled communication skills and isn't tainted with any baggage. Also might win us a seat in the 416 for the first time in a while. A step in the right direction, I'd say.

  • DL

    Shurman is the only MPP still committed to faith based funding. He'd have to ditch it if he wants a serious shot at becoming leader but if he does that he'll alienate the people who voted for him last election. I don't think he's a tenable candidate given those circumstances.

  • Big Daddy

    please dear god let it be delmastro…

  • Cat

    I like VanLoan among all of those you list Stephen. His organization ability and that no-nonsense style is just what the party needs.

    Flaherty’s not going anywhere.

  • Liz J

    The Liberals would love to see any of the Federal MP’s leave to run for the PC leadership. Hopefully all stay put. They are all good MP’s and their talents are needed for the Majority we are seeking.

    Hopefully a lot of consideration is taken in choosing the next leader. Getting on the bandwagon for anyone at this point is jumping the gun. Let’s wait and see. We have to see who is tossing their hat in the ring and go from there.

  • http://www.bluelikeyou.com/ Joanne (T.B.)

    My Conservative Dream Team: Elizabeth Witmer as Leader, with Tim Hudak as Deputy (and attack dog). Perfect duo to fight Dalton & Smitherman.

  • Jeff

    I’d also suggest that Witmer is one to watch. If she runs a right moderate campaign to win the nomination she stands the best chance of winning the general election.

  • Paul M

    In my opinion the PCO should only bring in a leader who already has a seat at Queens Park. I do NOT want to go through another by-election in which you know the teacher unions and other Liberal friendly organizations will do everything they can to de-rail the party's leadership.

    We need to be able to hit the ground running after the leadership vote.

  • Michael

    Well, your Cabinet is so bare to begin with, I don’t think you can afford to lose anyone. I think you should all throw your support behind Randy “The Tractor-Reactor” Hillier.

    An Ontario Liberal dynasty? Say it ain’t so!

    Roll on 2011!

  • Ron

    I would be very surprised if the party selected someone outside of caucus – the very last thing we need at this point is a leader who needs another member to step down so he/she can run in a by-election — if we want to hit the road running, a new leader must come from caucus –

  • Josef

    Stephen Taylor: Young, dynamic and plugged-in. He’ll make Premier Dad look older than snot and Premier-in-Waiting Pupatello have to figure out how to out Kheiriddin Tasha Kheiriddin.

  • PC in Ottawa

    I would love – let me restate that; LOVE to see either Elliott or Witmer as leader of the party. Unfortunately for Witmer, I think she's a bit too old to take on that role (remember that she's been an MPP for 19 years). Elliott would attract women to the party which is a must if we want to win government.

  • Henry Bolingbroke

    Dean del Mastro: “…has done a good job to raise his media profile in the short time he's been in Parliament.”

    That's right! I remember him! He was the MP on the receiving end of Flaherty's ill-fated train to Peterborough last year!

  • http://mileslunn.blogspot.com Miles Lunn

    I too would add Elizabeth Witmer as a potential and maybe even Janet Ecker as a long shot. Not all Tories want to see the party move to the right, some believe that the problem with John Tory was his bad political judgement not his political orientation. For one thing a moderate could easily win against several right wing candidates and likewise in a general election, a moderate is more likely to win than a more right wing candidate. After the financial crisis, the idea of dramatically reducing the size of government has lost much of its appeal so the Tories are better to run on reducing its excesses, not radically reducing its size.

  • Anon

    I can’t believe Micheal Chong isn’t being discussed. Intellegent, moderate, pricipled, can speak to ethnic communities authentically without pandering, can distance himself from the federal Tories in a heartbeat if need be, whats not to like?

  • Marginal Revolution

    Wow there’s a lot of support for Witmer on here. What kind of readership are you attracting Steve?

  • rightguy

    I've seen Elliott speak in person and to me she came across as a political lightweight; she certainly did not show the strength and competence that Witmer showed in her prime. Hudak was once like that and has improved so perhaps in time, Elliott can improve enough to take a leadership stab.

    Shurman, on the other hand, has been extremely strong from the start, and is not defined as a “red” or “blue” conservative – just a pragmatic one. I have no doubt, if he runs, that he will succinctly dispense with the “school funding issue” one way or another, leaving him free and clear to run a strong campaign.

  • Maria

    Yes, another vote from me for Van Loan.

  • Kelly Jamieson

    If Del Mastro runs it will be only to bump up his profile for the next Federal election. Peterborough voters would think “That's big shot Del Mastro” instead of “Didn't Del Mastro promise (and not deliver) us a train last time?” and that is all he can hope for. Del Mastro is not strong enough to unseat Jeff Leal let alone take the PC Ontario Leadership.

  • andrewwang

    Speaking of Ontario:

    The people of Ontario would condemn George W. Bush’s hate crimes.

    George W. Bush is a raging racist.

    George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism (indicated in my blog).

    George W. Bush did in fact commit innumerable hate crimes.

    And I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed other hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention.

    Many people know what Bush did.

    And many people will know what Bush did—even to the end of the world.

    Bush was absolute evil.

    Bush is now like a fugitive from justice.

    Bush is a psychological prisoner.

    Bush has a lot to worry about.

    Bush can technically be prosecuted for hate crimes at any time.

    In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

    Respectfully Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
    B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
    Messiah College, Grantham, PA
    Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

    (I can type 90 words per minute. In only 7 days, posts basically like this post of mine have come into existence—all over the Internet (hundreds of copies). One can go to Google USA right now, type “George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism,” hit “Enter,” and find more than 350 copies indicating the content of this post. All in all, there are probably more than 1,000 copies on the Internet indicating the content of this post—it has practically become headline news. One cannot be too dedicated when it comes to anti-Bush activities. As I looked back at my good computer work, I thought how fun and easy it was to do it.)

    I am not sure where I had read it before, but anyway, it goes kind of like this: “If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Oh wait—off the top of my head—I think it came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.