Doug Ford won’t vie for Ontario PC leadership

Failed mayoral candidate psychs out media by calling a press conference to say he's not running


Doug Ford has never been one to play by the rules, and on Thursday the outgoing city councillor defied political convention one more time by calling a press conference to announce that he won’t be running for leader of the Ontario PC party. 

When Mayor Rob Ford’s older brother invited the press to the North Etobicoke headquarters of his family label business, many assumed it would be to kick off his leadership bid, reasoning that it wouldn’t make sense to hold a press conference for a non-announcement. 

But instead Ford walked out in front of Deco Labels and Tags and declared he was “going to take a break” from politics for a while.

“Folks, I’m here to announce that I will not be running for PC leadership,” he said. “It’s been the most difficult decision of my entire life. Tougher than deciding whether to run for mayor, run for council, any decision I’ve ever made.” 

Ford said he was undecided up until Wednesday night, but he concluded that “my priority is my family. My priority is my business. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be there for the people of Ontario.”

He wouldn’t rule out running for office again in the future, however. 

Of the five candidates running to replace Tim Hudak, Ford said all of them were capable but he would be supporting Christine Elliott, the widow of former federal finance minister and close Ford family friend Jim Flaherty. 

As a city councillor and mayoral candidate (he stepped in for his brother, who was diagnosed with cancer, in September) Ford famously sparred with the media. He’s called the coverage of his family “disgusting” and just last month described one reporter as a “little bitch.” 

But in his closing remarks Thursday he elicited laughter from journalists by thanking the press corp. “We had a good ride with the press,” he said. “We’ve had our ups and downs, but all of you have been very classy throughout the mayoral election and very respectful. And I look forward to working with you over the next few years.” 

This wasn’t the first time Ford called a press conference to announce he wasn’t running for something. In February he decided not to run for provincial MPP on the Ontario PC ticket, after reportedly being warned off Hudak’s staff. Many in the party were apparently concerned that his bullying style and the drug and gang scandal involving his brother were too much of a liability.

But last month Ford received more than 331,000 votes in the mayoral election in a city where the PC’s currently hold no seats provincially and many observers felt the promise of a breakthrough in Toronto could be enough to make him a serious contender to helm the party. 

PC members will elect their new leader next spring using ranked ballots. The results will be announced at the party convention in Toronto on May 9. 

bens@nowtoronto.com | @BenSpurr

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