After an extremely hectic and chaotic day marred by reported technical difficulties, controversial politician Doug Ford has been named leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party.
Ford thanked supporters shortly after 10:00 p.m.
THANK YOU ONTARIO! Thank you for your trust, thank you to the PC members, thank you to the volunteers and thank you to all the other candidates. Together we will put Ontario back on track. #Pcpoldr #pcpo #ford pic.twitter.com/KEb8JvRQXt
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) March 11, 2018
Ford, a former Toronto city councillor and the brother of late Toronto mayor Rob Ford, won on the third ballot, beating his closest rival, former MPP Christine Elliott, by some 200 votes.
He was also running against Toronto lawyer Caroline Mulroney and well-known social conservative figure Tanya Granic Allen.
To say that the race to find a new PC leader has been tumultuous is an understatement. The leadership race has been fraught from day one, starting when it was launched a little more than a month ago after former leader Patrick Brown stepped down amidst sexual misconduct allegations.
Brown vehemently denied the allegations and attempted to reclaim his position as leader before eventually withdrawing his candidacy.
Today has been equally as chaotic.
What was supposed to be a vote result announcement late afternoon Saturday ended up being dragged over three hours, as party members gathered at the Hilton Hotel in Markham hearing little information from party officials as to what on earth was going on.
While early media reports indicated that Ford was victorious, the results were not officially announced until late in the evening. The CBC reports that “party officials decided not to announce any results until outstanding questions over some disputed ballots could be answered.”
The CBC says that sources told the news outlet that there was “confusion over which riding a number of ballots came from.”
To add to the confusion, the party said after 7:00 pm that the results would not be announced until the day after, and that members should all leave the convention hall as the venue was booked for another event that evening.
In his speech, Ford said he was planning to “get Ontario back on track.”
He will be going up against current Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne later this year in a general election.
And while Wynne is currently unpopular, it remains to be seen whether the controversial and deeply polarizing Ford–who actually launched his leadership bid from his mother’s basement–can defeat his incumbent opponent.
There’s also the matter of the entire party’s inability to choose a new leader after Brown’s hugely public scandal and subsequent aggressive attempts to clear his name.
If this party wanted to prove to Ontarians they were ready to govern the province, they certainly didn’t demonstrate that this weekend. The old adage applies: if you can’t even run your own party, how are you going to run the province?
This should be an interesting campaign.
Cover photo courtesy of Doug Ford’s official Instagram account
With files from Ashley Newport