Patrick Brown elected leader of Ontario PC party
Published Saturday, May 9, 2015 7:12AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 9, 2015 1:42PM EDT
The Ontario Progressive Conservatives have elected federal MP Patrick Brown as their new leader.
The 36-year-old Brown promised a "younger" and "more diverse" PC Party in his victory speech at the Tory convention in Toronto Saturday afternoon, after defeating rival Christine Elliott in a landslide vote.
Brown will take over leadership of the party after serving as a Conservative MP for Barrie.
The new PC and Official Opposition leader said he aims to build a "big" party that embraces diversity and different points of view. "Today's PC party reflects our province," Brown said. "Let's start working together."
Brown ran away with the vote as PC Party President Richard Ciano announced the riding-by-riding results. Brown secured the final points necessary to win with results from his home federal riding of Barrie.
Earlier in the week, party members cast their votes in 107 ridings across Ontario.
The provincial leadership win marks another big step for the Brown, who has risen quickly in his young political career. He was previously elected to Barrie city council at age 22 before winning a seat in Parliament at 27.
Brown’s opponent declared the decision "unanimous" in her speech to the convention after her defeat. It was the second failed leadership bid for the 60-year-old Elliott, who is the widow of late federal finance minister Jim Flaherty and the Ontario PC party’s current deputy leader.
"It isn't always easy to put yourself forward, but the sacrifice, I think, has been worth it," Elliott said.
Brown praised Elliott for a hard-fought campaign that pushed him to become a better politician. "We do not anoint our leaders – we test them, and this has been a long test," Brown said. "She pushed me hard, she tested me, and I am better for it."
Brown takes the reins from interim PC Leader Jim Wilson, who has been in place since Tim Hudak resigned from his leadership spot last June. Hudak's resignation came on the heels of his second straight election defeat at the hands of the Ontario Liberals. The loss was also the fourth straight for the Ontario Tories.
The new Opposition Leader took aim at the majority Liberals in his speech, criticizing their spending habits, education record and relationship with the private sector. However, he refrained from commenting on the most controversial topics at Queen's Park, including sexual education protests, teacher strikes and the Hydro One sale.
Elliott and Brown were the only candidates left from what began as a five-person race. Ottawa-area MPP Lisa MacLeod and North Bay MPP Vic Fedeli pulled out of the race and endorsed Elliott, while London-area MPP Monte McNaughton dropped out to throw his support behind Brown.
PC Party President Richard Ciano went through all 107 ridings one-by-one, announcing vote percentages for each as he went. Each riding had 100 points to divide up between the leadership candidates. Brown needed 5,292 votes to win.
Brown routinely won ridings by large margins, while Elliott's wins were more modest. The only 50-50 tie came in the riding of Kitchener-Centre.
Interim leader Jim Wilson's riding of Simcoe-Grey voted in favour of Brown.
Former leader Tim Hudak declined to speak at the PC convention, opting instead to cede the floor to a representative from the Speech and Stuttering Institute.
Later, Brown revealed in his victory speech that he struggled with a speech impediment from age four to age nine.
"It's because of a speech institute that I was able to overcome that," he said.