PC leadership hopeful Christine Elliott swings through Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie

With party members already voting, the woman seen by some as the front runner in the PC leadership race makes one last swing through northern Ontario.

PC members voting until noon on March 9, winner to be unveiled March 10

Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Christine Elliott chats with party members in Sudbury during a lunchtime stop at the Apollo restaurant. (Erik White/CBC)

With party members already voting, the woman seen by some as the front runner in the PC leadership race made one last swing through northern Ontario. 

Former MPP Christine Elliott made a lunchtime stop Tuesday in Sudbury, before continuing onto a evening event in Sault Ste. Marie.

"I've often heard from people from in northern Ontario that 'You people are Queen's Park don't know what you're talking about. And that you're often making a bad situation worse,'" she said.

Elliott, who is making her third run to be party leader, is promising to keep most of the platform laid out in "The People's Guarantee" developed under former leader Patrick Brown, who quit amid sexual misconduct allegations, sparking this unprecedented leadership run-off that ends on March 10. 

But Ellliott does want to see the budget for the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund double to $200 million a year, with $25 million of that set aside for "socio-economic" projects. 

However, she doesn't see that as a permanent fix for the northern economy.

Uniting the party

"Well, I think it's important right now. What we hope to do though is make sure that northern Ontario continues to be able to attract businesses to develop here, but in the interim period there's some help that's needed and we want to make sure that we can do that so northerners don't feel they're left out," she told reporters in Sudbury.

Political rookie and leadership hopeful Caroline Mulroney is making the same promise to double the heritage fund, while contenders Doug Ford and Tanya Granic Allen have focused more on developing the Ring of Fire when talking northern issues.

Elliott told a room full of Sudbury Tories that uniting the party will be the new leader's first job, but not as difficult as it might seem.

"I don't think it's nearly as bad as some of the things you've read about in the newspaper," she said. 

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