Ontario election agenda: What you need to know for March 5

Progressive Conservatives continue to fend off criticism over their voting process, while the leadership race gets progressively nastier
By Daniel Kitts - Published on Mar 05, 2018
The Ontario Tories’ leadership race has entered its final week, with the winner to be announced March 10. (Justin Tang/CP)

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​Here’s our daily look at what’s making news in the lead-up to the next provincial election.

Latest news

  • Following accusations that the process for electing its new leader is badly disorganized, the Progressive Conservative party has extended its voter registration deadline for the second time in a week. Party members now have until noon on March 7 to register. A source told the Canadian Press that the party is also moving the deadline for actual voting from March 8 to March 9. The winner will be announced March 10.
  • The race is getting testier as it nears its end. Over a 24-hour period this weekend, Doug Ford’s camp sent three emails attacking Christine Elliott, whose campaign then responded by retweeting Ford’s 2015 endorsement of Elliott: “There’s one person that can unite the party and bring us to majority government. That’s Christine Elliott.” Meanwhile, Caroline Mulroney is arguing the party needs “fresh leadership,” which is partly a dig at Elliott, who is nearly two decades older than Mulroney and spent years on the opposition benches at Queen’s Park.
  • A prominent PC staffer who had a key role in ousting former party leader Patrick Brown is planning to return to the private sector.  Alykhan Velshi, who resigned as Brown’s chief of staff after reports surfaced that Brown had engaged in sexual misconduct (something the MPP has repeatedly denied), has told interim PC leader Vic Fedeli he will leave Queen’s Park within days after a new permanent leader is chosen. Velshi has been serving as Fedeli’s chief of staff since the latter became interim leader.
  • Amid voter concerns about climate change, TVO’s Steve Paikin reports that Christine Elliott is promising to introduce policies “that show that [Progressive Conservatives] do care about the environment.” Whether Elliott is promising action on climate change is unclear: environmental policies can involve things that have little or nothing to do with reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. One thing Elliott is clear on: “[W]e don’t need a carbon tax.”
  • However, the intention of all four PC leadership hopefuls to scrap carbon pricing could leave Ontario on the hook for billions of dollars in compensation claims. According to Mark Cameron of Canadians for Clean Prosperity, a think tank that advocates for the kind of revenue-neutral carbon tax former PC leader Patrick Brown championed, businesses that have already purchased emission allowances under the Liberals’ cap-and-trade system would expect to be reimbursed if a Tory government tore that system down. Failing to replace cap and trade with a carbon tax would mean such compensation would have to come from elsewhere.
  • Donald Trump now says new steel and aluminium tariffs will apply to Canada and Mexico unless he gets what he wants in a new NAFTA deal. Despite the intransigent tone coming from the White House, Canadian officials are doing “a full-court press” to convince Trump to change his mind. That includes Kathleen Wynne, who is calling U.S. governors and asking them to push the president to exempt Canada from the duties.
  • A prominent municipal politician floated as a replacement for departed health minister Eric Hoskins in the Toronto riding of St. Paul’s is taking himself out of contention. Local city councillor Josh Matlow told Steve Paikin he loves municipal issues and loves his work at city hall, and so won’t be seeking the riding’s Liberal nomination.
  • Former premier Mike Harris’s son wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. Mike Harris Jr. says he’ll seek the Progressive Conservative nomination for Waterloo, a riding currently represented by NDP MPP Catherine Fife. Given that the province has had a premier named Mike Harris and there’s already another PC MPP named Michael Harris sitting in the legislature, this could all get very confusing.
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