As political endorsements go, it’s a great one.
Barrie MP Patrick Brown has scored the support of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky in his bid to lead the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.
“I have known Patrick Brown for a number of years now,” Gretzky said in a statement. “Hard working and dedicated, Patrick is a strong Conservative. He has the passion and vision to lead Ontario.”
Provincial PCs will choose a new leader in May from a pool of three candidates — Brown, Whitby-Oshawa MPP Christine Elliott and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton.
Brown is the only one of the three leadership candidates who does not currently have a provincial seat.
Elliott is largely considered to be the frontrunner, and Brown has pitched the contest as a battle between the status quo and the new.
Gretzky’s endorsement of Brown was announced Monday.
“I am honoured to have support from Wayne Gretzky, a Canadian icon and one of the greatest athletes of our time,” Brown said. “I am rebuilding the PC party by reaching out to people outside our traditional voting base. I am connecting with people who share a vision of a better Ontario but who haven’t felt at home with our party, and those who have never been politically active before.
“Ontario is tired of the same old, same old and wants change,” he said.
The PCs have been in the hunt for a new leader since the resignation of Tim Hudak shortly after a disappointing result in last June’s election.
Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson currently serves as the interim leader until the permanent replacement is chosen by party members.