'I am ready to go.' Christine Elliott wants to return to Queen's Park as PC leader
Former MPP so far up against Caroline Mulroney, Doug Ford in race to replace Patrick Brown
Former MPP and two-time leadership contender Christine Elliott says she is the candidate with the requisite experience to lead Ontario's PC Party into the next election, after tossing her hat into the ring for a third time to be leader.
Elliott spent nine years at Queen's Park as an MPP, including a stint as deputy party leader, and twice ran for the leadership, losing first to Tim Hudak and then to Patrick Brown. The latest leadership race comes after Brown stepped down following allegations of sexual misconduct by two women.
So far, Elliott is up against Caroline Mulroney, the party's candidate in York-Simcoe, and former Toronto councillor Doug Ford.
On Friday, Elliott said that a short leadership race just months before the next election means an experienced candidate is required.
"I think the most important thing in this leadership race is the fact that there's not much time, we only have a few months to the next election, and we need somebody in my view who has experience at Queen's Park," Elliott told CBC Radio's Here and Now.
"I was there for nine years. I was a legislator, I have run in leadership campaigns before, I am ready to go. And that's what we need, somebody who can hit the ground running. And that's me."
Elliott said that although she's run for the leadership and lost twice, she has "learned every time."
In order to run, Elliott has stepped down as Ontario's patient ombudsman. Despite taking that post under a Liberal government, Elliott said she's "been concerned for a long time about the direction Ontario is headed," and said she "firmly believes" the Ontario PC Party is "ready to form government."
"We need somebody who is ready to lead now and I believe I'm that person and I'm the one who can beat Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals."
Campaign about 'ideas'
Earlier this week, a staffer from Mulroney's camp, Melissa Lantsman, tweeted that it's "time for someone new" to lead the party, "someone new who didn't retire from politics to take a cushy job from the Liberals."
Asked about the comment, Elliott replied:
"I don't think that those kinds of comments are helpful because what we're trying to do is reunite the party and get focused on the true target, which is defeating the Liberals in the next election."
Reminded that elbows will be up among candidates in a leadership campaign, Elliott said she expected some of that, but hopes the campaign will primarily be about "ideas."
"We need to talk about our vision for the party and our vision for the province and making personal comments about other candidates is not the way I operate," Elliott said. "And you won't see me doing that in this campaign."
She added that she was approached by a recruiter about the patient ombudsman job, and was among "hundreds of applicants.
"So it was a completely fair and open and competitive process."
Elliott said the focus of her campaign will be the platform already put forward by the party under Brown. Many caucus members and candidates are "more than anxious to run on that document," she said. But added that one thing she does not support is a carbon tax.