TORONTO – Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford has appointed candidates in nearly a dozen ridings ahead of the upcoming provincial election, and they include the son of a former premier.
With Ontarians set to go to the polls on June 7, the PCs released a statement Saturday announcing 11 appointees for ridings where a nomination meeting hadn’t been scheduled.
They include Mike Harris Jr., the son of former Ontario premier Mike Harris, who led a Tory government in the province for nearly seven years from 1995 to 2002.
Harris Jr. has been appointed to represent the PCs in the riding of Kitchener-Conestoga — a seat currently held by a politician with a strikingly similar name.
Michael Harris — no relation to Harris Jr. — announced earlier this month he would not be running for re-election due to medical reasons.
He was later booted from the Tory caucus amid allegations of harassment from a former intern.
Another candidate selected by Ford on Saturday was Doug Downey, who was appointed to run for the Tories in Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte.
The party’s former leader, Patrick Brown, had been nominated to run for the Tories in that riding, but the party’s nominations committee announced in March that he would not be eligible to run.
Brown stepped down as the party’s leader in January amid allegations of sexual misconduct, plunging the Tories into turmoil and leading to Ford’s successful leadership bid.
Meanwhile, former PC leadership contender Tanya Granic Allen won the party’s nomination to run as the Tory candidate in Mississauga Centre.
Granic Allen is social conservative whom the Ontario Liberal Party accused in a Saturday release of having “an addiction to hateful rhetoric.”
Ford’s appointments were met with criticism by some within his own party.
“After nearly two years of campaigning for the Ontario Progressive Conservative nomination in London West, I learned this morning that another candidate had been summarily appointed,” Jake Skinner wrote in a statement on Twitter. “Frankly, I’m in a state of shock. I am deeply disappointed for our members.”
The province’s Tories were plagued by controversial nomination battles in ridings across the province, including allegations of vote-stuffing that predated Ford’s leadership.
The party reopened several races shortly after he was elected leader.
Ford also issued a statement Saturday, saying the PCs are “only 47 days away” from defeating the Liberals under Premier Kathleen Wynne.
“Help is on the way,” Ford said. “We have a strong team of candidates who are committed to delivering change that works for the people.”