Christine Elliott will seek the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, saying the next four years will be a lot of "slogging and hard work" for the party to win the next election.
Elliott spoke of rebuilding the party after a significant loss of popular vote and seats in the June 12 election. She emphasized listening as the way forward for the party — both listening to voters and her own team.
"Good economic policy enables good social policy," she announced. "We need to go back and rebuild our party from the ground up."
Her approach will not be to change where the PC party sits on the political scale, but to simply pay more attention.
"It's not about lurching from one side of the political spectrum to the other," she said, but going door-to-door to find out what matters to voters.
She also distanced herself from Tim Hudak's poor performance in the election, who announced on election night he would step down.
"We can't take away jobs for the sake of it," she said, implicitly criticizing Hudak's vow during the election to cut 100,000 public sector jobs. She promised a line-by-line analysis of the province's finances. "We should continue with the programs that provide value to people and get rid of the ones that don't."
Came 3rd in 2009 leadership race
Elliott has been the member of the legislature for Whitby-Oshawa, a riding east of Toronto, since she won a 2006 byelection. A lawyer who practised real estate, corporate and estate law, she graduated from London's University of Western Ontario.
Elliott ran against Hudak for the party leadership in 2009 and finished third. Her then-colleague Frank Klees came in second.
If she succeeds in her leadership bid, it would mean all the parties in the provincial legislature would be headed by women — a first in Ontario. One of those other leaders, NDP chief Andrea Horwath, affirmed on Wednesday that she will remain atop her party despite strong criticism from within social democratic ranks for her campaign in the recent election.
Speaking about the election, Elliott said some people were "left out" of the process. She said she was simply a candidate on the ground, and not involved in strategy.
Elliott was married to the late finance minster Jim Flaherty, who was her colleague in provincial politics during the 1990s before he moved to Parliament Hill. The two have three sons.
"It's something Jim always wanted me to do," said Elliott of her late husband. "I feel he would be happy with my decision."
She added that her sons are 100 per cent behind her.
Hudak is expected to step down as of July 2. Elliott is the first to officially declare her intention to seek the party leadership.
Other possible contenders for the Tory leadership are Monte McNaughton, Lisa MacLeod, Vic Fedeli and PC party
president Richard Ciano. Rumours about federal MPs as contenders persist, with Tony Clement and Lisa Raitt both mentioned.