Christine Elliott is conceding defeat to Doug Ford, congratulating the new Ontario Progressive Conservative leader and promising to run for the party in the June provincial election.
Her move brings to an end the extended drama of the party’s tumultuous leadership race, triggered six weeks ago by the sudden resignation of Patrick Brown amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Elliott initially disputed the results announced late Saturday, alleging “serious irregularities” in the voting. The party declared Ford the winner by a margin of just one percentage point.
But in a statement issued Sunday night, Elliott struck a conciliatory tone.
“Our team took the last twenty-four hours to review the results of an election that was incredibly close,” she said in the statement. “After completing my review, I am confident in the results. I extend my congratulations to Doug Ford on a hard-fought campaign.”
As CBC News reported first, Elliott initiated a meeting with Ford on Sunday afternoon. The pair met for “several hours,” according to a senior official on the Elliott campaign.
Doug Ford marched in the St Patrick’s Day parade in Toronto on Sunday (CBC)
While the official said the campaign team believes they have a good case to dispute the result, the only recourse would be to go to court, and that is not something Elliott or her team want to do with the party facing an election on June 7.
“Christine is choosing not to challenge this,” said the official. “Christine and the team were unanimous that this was the right way forward. The name of the game is unifying the party.”
“Ontario needs a Progressive Conservative government to finally defeat Kathleen Wynne,” Elliott said in her statement. “I look forward to running as a candidate.”
Ford eked out his victory on the third ballot, after candidate Tanya Granic Allen was knocked off on the first ballot and Caroline Mulroney on the second.