Monte McNaughton says he won't run for Ontario PC leadership
Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP says he will instead focus energy on re-election in his own riding
With his party in deepening turmoil after the sudden resignation of Patrick Brown over sexual misconduct allegations, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton says he won't run for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party.
In a statement published Tuesday, the veteran MPP said he wants to focus instead on re-election in his own riding instead of making a run at the party's top job.
"After reviewing the expedited timelines, financial and personal commitments required in order to not only mount a successful leadership campaign, but also a successful provincial election campaign, I have decided to focus my efforts on my local re-election campaign in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex," a written statement emailed to CBC News said Tuesday.
With the news, McNaughton joins interim party leader Vic Fedeli and Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa McLeod as some of the high-ranking party members who announced Tuesday that they would not be launching a leadership bid.
McNaughton known as ideological populist
BREAKING: Lisa MacLeod declines to join the Ontario PC leadership race <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/onpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#onpoli</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PCPO?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PCPO</a> <a href="https://t.co/Gse6bCkmye">https://t.co/Gse6bCkmye</a>—@CBCQueensPark
McNaughton is well-known for his populist style and ideological approach to issues such as Ontario's revamped sex-ed curriculum and was seen by some who criticized Patrick Brown's centrist approach as a possible replacement who could push the PC party further to the right.
With McNaughton officially out of the leadership race, it seems the only noteworthy populist on the ticket is Doug Ford, who announced he would seek the party helm on Monday, just days after the high profile resignations of leader Patrick Brown and party president Rick Dykstra.
The PCs seem beset by problems on all sides, with interim leader Vic Fedeli admitting Tuesday that the party is also dealing with problems involving internal reporting, membership lists and the security of its computer systems.
Fedeli told reporters at a news conference at Queen's Park that he has ordered an investigation into the names and addresses of the party's 200,000 members following the ransomware attack on the party's computer systems on Nov. 1.
"I am giving you my word here today, that I will fix the problems in our systems, in my role as leader, and I will root out any rot that manifests itself," Fedeli told reporters, noting he would not be running for the leadership in order to devote all his energies to fixing the party's problems.