'Unjust and wrong' says Ontario PC executive member of attempts to derail leadership race

A northwestern Ontario Progressive Conservative candidate, Derek Parks, who also sits as a regional vice president on the party's executive said Monday he's worried a proposed leadership race could be shut down.

Thunder Bay candidate Derek Parks says leadership contest is only way forward for the party and for voters

Derek Parks is a regional vice president with the Progressive Conservatives in Ontario and plans to run in the Thunder Bay-Superior North riding in the June 2018 election. He says he believes "the only way to move forward for the voters of Ontario is to make sure we know who our leader is, and to have that leadership race before the election." (Cathy Alex/CBC )

A northwestern Ontario Progressive Conservative candidate, Derek Parks, who also sits as a regional vice president on the party's executive said Monday he's worried a proposed leadership race could be shut down.

On Friday, the PC caucus selected North Bay MP Vic Fedeli to serve as interim leader, after Patrick Brown abruptly resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Later that day, the executive decided the best course forward was to hold a short leadership race before the anticipated provincial election in June.

However, Parks, who is running in the riding of Thunder Bay-Superior North, said he's concerned the contest may get derailed.

'What I know about politics is out the window'

"What I know and understand about politics is out the window," said Parks who was a supporter of Brown's and assisted on him tours through northern Ontario.

He said he has heard "rumours and innuendo" that there is an effort to have the executive revoke their decision and "even potentially seize the PC funds so we are unable to have a leadership [race]."

With his voice trembling, Parks added "I feel that is unjust and wrong on so many levels."

Leadership contest 'only way forward'

He said he has received calls and letters from other party members "pleading for the opportunity to participate in the selection of a new leader. As the events of the weekend have unfolded it appears that the interim leadership is actively trying to seize control of the process and prevent the vast majority of the party members from having their say."

Parks said he originally believed that having the interim leader take the party through the election was the best option, based on time constraints and the fact Fedeli is a fellow northern Ontario politician.

But he said over the weekend, he did some reflecting and came to the realization that "you don't have to be a political junkie to know how easy it would be to put pins in our leader if he or she wasn't elected by our membership."

'Politics is a blood sport'

He said he now believes "the only way to move forward for the voters of Ontario is to make sure we know who our leader is, and to have that leadership race before the election."

Parks acknowledged that "after this week nothing is going to surprise me," and that he is "fully aware that politics is a blood sport."

He anticipates "there will be phone calls and try to have me removed but I thought, as I still wear that [executive] hat, I get to say my peace."

Parks said the executive is finalizing the plan to have a leadership race wrapped up by the end of March to give the new leader a campaign window before the June election date.

On Monday, Doug Ford, brother of the late Rob Ford who served as the mayor of Toronto, announced his intention to seek the leadership.