Former Ontario PC leadership candidate Christine Elliott said she and Doug Ford are “still friends” after she challenged the results of a chaotic leadership vote that ended with Ford being declared new leader of the party.
“You know things happen in the course of leadership campaigns that you maybe aren’t as friendly as you usually are but at the end of it, we know that we have a solid friendship and we are going to carry on,” she told CP24 in her first one-on-one interview after being defeated by Ford.
“We are still friends, always will be.”
Ford, a former city councillor and older brother of late former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, was declared the winner at Saturday’s convention in Markham after a seven-and-a-half hour delay.
Elliott placed a close second, coming in 153 points behind Ford on the final ballot.
In a written statement Sunday morning, Elliott said she received the popular vote as well as the majority of the ridings and said there were "serious irregularities" with the voting process that needed to be investigated.
But hours later, Elliott officially conceded to Ford, saying she was “confident in the results” of the race.
“I had a more detailed meeting with my team, including the people that were doing the scrutineering and so on and they explained to me where the irregularities were and at the end of the day, we concluded that the result would not have changed and so that’s why I was able to then go and congratulate Doug,” she told CP24 on Tuesday.
“I just thought it was really important to the members because this is such an important race to make sure to all of our members that this was the result that it actually was.”
Elliott, who still intends to pursue a seat in the provincial election in June, said she hasn’t officially decided where she will run.
“I’m narrowing it down to two or three right now and I’m hoping to have a decision made in the next few days,” she said.
When asked if she has any regrets about running for the leadership, Elliott replied, “none at all.”
“It’s a bit of a whirlwind of emotions, as you can imagine with something this close. But I got into this to help the party. Though I’m proceeding in a way that I didn’t really anticipate, I still want to be there to help and to be a candidate, hopefully to win and to hopefully form government,” she said.
She added that she feels comfortable being vocal about her opinions on policy with Ford, including her position on modifying, instead of repealing, the sex-Ed curriculum.
“I imagine we can have a conversation about it but if he wants to repeal it, that’s his to decide,” she said.
“I’m vocal on all kinds of things so I’m sure I’ll make my views known, but he is the one that makes the decisions at the end of the day.”
Even after learning that Elliott planned to challenge the results of the vote, Ford maintained that he hoped Elliott would play an important role in the party.
“I look forward to her being part of our team,” Ford told CP24 while marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday. “She’ll play an instrumental role and we want to make sure together we are going to defeat Kathleen Wynne and bring prosperity back to the province."