The Progressive Conservatives want to consult with members from across the province before scheduling a leadership convention.
In the wake of former Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s June 12 election defeat at the hands of Premier Kathleen Wynne, PC brass met Saturday to discuss next steps.
After the meeting, party president Richard Ciano tweeted that the Tories will not be rushing into anything.
“The @OntarioPCParty will complete a province-wide consultation with members before fixing a date for the leadership election. #pcpo #renewal,” Ciano wrote on Twitter.
Party spokesman Alan Sakach said the PC executive has struck a committee to help determine the “leadership timeline and rules.”
That committee will report back next month after input from members.
With a post-election debt of around $8 million, the Tories — now led on an interim basis by MPP Jim Wilson — have a myriad of challenges.
A party that governed Ontario for 50 of the past 71 years has now lost four consecutive elections to the Liberals of Wynne and her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty.
During last month’s campaign, Hudak’s controversial vow to scrap 100,000 public-service positions over the next four years caught most PC candidates off-guard.
The then leader argued such drastic measures were needed to pay off Ontario’s deficit — which now sits at $12.5 billion — one year earlier than the planned 2017-18 target for balancing the books.
Wynne’s Liberals successfully exploited the surprise pledge, costing nine Tory members their seats and giving the Grits a majority of 58 MPPs in the 107-member legislatures.
The Conservatives, who lost their only Toronto MPP as well as several key GTA seats, were reduced to 28 members, Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats to 21.
So far, MPP Christine Elliott (Whitby-Oshawa) is the only declared candidate to succeed Hudak, but numerous others are mentioned as possible entrants.
At Queen’s Park, they include MPPs Vic Fedeli (Nipissing), Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton), and Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex).
There is potential interest in Ottawa from MPs Patrick Brown (Barrie) and Rick Dykstra (St. Catharines), federal Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Treasury Board President Tony Clement, and Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.
In Toronto, where the Tories must make a breakthrough to form government, CivicAction chair and prominent business leader Rod Phillips is seen as a promising candidate from outside Queen’s Park.