Ford wins the day in Haldimand-Norfolk
Local MPP Toby Barrett, left, wishes Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford well this weekend in Toronto. Provincial party members in Haldimand-Norfolk voted overwhelmingly in favour of Ford last week. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Local MPP Toby Barrett is confident Ontario Progressive Conservatives picked a winner this weekend when they elected Doug Ford Jr. as their leader.
The former municipal politician from Toronto was Barrett’s first choice to win Saturday’s leadership contest.
Ford was also the party’s first choice in Haldimand-Norfolk. With nearly 500 party members voting locally, Ford was strong out of the gate on the first ballot with 40 per cent support.
After social conservative Tanya Granic Allen was eliminated from the four-member field, her secondary ballot support was allocated to the remaining candidates.
This pushed Ford over the top in Haldimand-Norfolk with 288 votes and 59 per cent support. After that, local PCs had to wait seven hours for the results to be tabulated in 123 other ridings.
Barrett says the PCs have chosen “a retail politician” as their leader – one who earned his stripes in the rough-and-tumble of Toronto city council from 2010 to 2014.
Ford lost the mayoralty of Toronto to former PC leader John Tory four years ago. He was prepared to challenge Tory again this fall when the leadership of the provincial PCs became available.
“Ford is an entrepreneur who owns and has grown his business,” Barrett said this week.
“He understands the importance of management and the controller function. He knows you can’t run a successful company if you don’t control the books.”
Ford won handily in Haldimand-Norfolk Saturday but the rest of the province was a squeaker.
Three-time leadership candidate Christine Elliott of Whitby led after the first ballot. But by the end of the third ballot, Ford had edged her 6,202 electoral votes to 6,049. The threshold of victory was 6,125.5 electoral votes.
Ford moved quickly to bind up the party’s wounds. He was rough on Elliott in the final days of the campaign but offered an olive branch on Sunday.
“While we were opponents for a few short days, today we are standing together, united with one goal – defeating the politically corrupt Wynne Liberals and giving relief to the everyday people Kathleen Wynne has left behind,” Ford said in a statement.
Surprising locally was Granic Allen. A virtual unknown outside social conservative circles, Granic Allen collected 120 votes in Haldimand-Norfolk on the first ballot. This was six votes shy of Elliott’s 126 and far more than the 50 votes for Caroline Mulroney.
Barrett wasn’t surprised Granic Allen did so well. Many thought Granic Allen entered the contest to oppose the Wynne government’s sex education curriculum. However, Granic Allen demonstrated an interest and expertise in a wide range of issues.
Barrett says Granic Allen is a formidable debater. He said she is comfortable with questions from the floor and doesn’t rely on notes when she speaks.
“I hope she runs in the (June 7) election,” Barrett said. “I sent her a note to that effect.”
The race was marred by serious technical issues. Barrett says a handful of party members in Haldimand-Norfolk were denied a vote because the party’s central computer system wouldn’t acknowledge them.
The problem, Barrett said, stems from out-of-date computing equipment. People in the know, Barrett said, refer to it as “Commodore 64” technology. Barrett said the party will have to invest in upgrades if it hopes to remain current.
On the upside, Barrett says the internal turmoil since the first of the year has been good for the party locally. Haldimand-Norfolk’s provincial riding association started 2018 with 200 members. Membership today sits at 700.