Ontario PCs appoint candidates in 11 ridings weeks out from election

Ontario Progressive Conservatives have appointed candidates to 11 provincial ridings that didn't have nomination meetings scheduled before the June 7 election.

The PCs nomination process has been plagued by scandal and internal strife

Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford announced Saturday that the party has appointed candidates in 11 ridings, in which no nomination meeting was scheduled before campaign season. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Ontario's Progressive Conservatives have appointed candidates to 11 provincial ridings that didn't have nomination meetings scheduled before the June 7 election.

"Help is on the way. We are only 47 days away from defeating Kathleen Wynne's government and giving Ontario the change it needs," said PC Leader Doug Ford in a statement issued Saturday afternoon. 

This year's provincial election will be the first with Ontario divided into 124 ridings — up from the 107 ridings that made up the former electoral map. 

Below are the ridings filled by the PCs on Saturday and the candidates who will represent the party in each:

  • Algoma-Manitoulin: Jib Turner.
  • Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte: Doug Downey.
  • Guelph: Ray Ferraro.
  • Kitchener-Conestoga: Mike Harris, Jr.
  • London West: Andrew Lawton.
  • Ottawa Centre: Colleen McCleery.
  • Scarborough Centre: Christina Mitas.
  • Scarborough Guildwood: Roshan Nallaratnam.
  • Scarborough Southwest: Gary Ellis.
  • Toronto Centre: Meredith Cartwright.
  • Toronto-St Paul's: Andrew Kirsch.

Ford also congratulated Tanya Granic Allen, the former PC leadership candidate, on Saturday evening after she secured the nomination in Mississauga Centre. 

The announcements nearly conclude a gruelling, and at times, deeply controversial nomination process for the party that began under former leader Patrick Brown. More than a dozen of the 56 nomination battles fought during Brown's leadership tenure ended with party members alleging irregularities.

In March, the PCs overturned nominations in three ridings and decided to hold an entirely new vote in the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas following what were deemed credible allegations of ballot-stuffing.

At the same time, the PCs revealed that Brown — despite having been cleared to run in a quickly-abandoned leadership bid after his ouster — would be barred from running in the new riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.

Meanwhile, in February, then-interim leader Vic Fedeli overturned nominations in two other ridings, including Scarborough Centre, which was only filled with Ford's Saturday announcement. 

'Brazen abuse of power'

Ford's move to unilaterally appoint candidates was met with outrage in some corners of the party. 

Jake Skinner, a trustee with the Thames Valley public school board who intended to run for the nomination in London West, said in a statement that he is "in a state of shock" and it was a "sad day for the grassroots."

In the message posted to Twitter, Skinner said he'd been preparing his candidacy for two years, a process that was "disruptive and costly" to his personal life. 

"That the party would bypass a nomination and appoint a candidate who declared his nomination candidacy only 10 days ago is clearly disrespectful to our grassroots members and represents a brazen abuse of power," Skinner said.

Harris Jr. hopes to replaces Harris

Meanwhile, among Saturday's appointed candidates was Mike Harris Jr. He is the son of former Ontario premier Mike Harris, who led a Tory government in the province for nearly seven years, from 1995 to 2002.

Harris Jr. has been appointed to represent the PCs in the riding of Kitchener-Conestoga — a seat currently held by a politician with a strikingly similar name.

Michael Harris — no relation to Harris Jr. — announced earlier this month he would not be running for re-election in that riding due to medical reasons.

He was later booted from the Tory caucus amid allegations of harassment from a former intern.

With files from The Canadian Press