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Veteran MPP Tim Hudak is the new leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party. ((Canadian Press))

Tim Hudak is the new leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservatives and the province's new Opposition leader.

He beat two-time leadership hopeful Frank Klees, rookie MPP Randy Hillier, and Christine Elliott, who is married to federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

The 41-year-old former cabinet minister will succeed John Tory, who resigned in March after losing a crucial byelection, and interim leader Bob Runciman.

Hudak, who represents Niagara-West Glanbrook, emerged early on as the favourite, winning the support of former premier Mike Harris.

He was backed by prominent Tories from that era, including John Baird and Tony Clement, who now sit at Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet table.

He's also married to Harris's former chief of staff, Deb Hutton, with whom he has a 20-month-old daughter, Miller.

Hudak has promised to scrap Ontario's Human Rights Tribunal, which both Klees and Elliott warned would tank with voters and give the ruling Liberals an easy victory in the 2011 election.

More than 40,000 party members were eligible to vote for a new leader last Sunday and Thursday, using preferential ballots that list each voter's second- and third-choice candidates, if any.

Right-wing rookie Hillier was dropped from the ballot after finishing last in the first round of counting. Elliott finished third and was eliminated after the second round of counting.