A day after the provincial election left the Ontario PC party in tatters, Toronto city councillor Doug Ford isn’t ruling out a possible run for its leadership.
“The door is always open in politics,” Ford told City Hall reporters on Friday. “If I was leader, there’d be a drastic changes in the PC party, from top to bottom.”
Is Doug Ford a legitimate candidate to succeed Tim Hudak as leader of the Ontario PCs?
Our pundits weigh in.
Matthew Coutts: I don’t think he should be considered a legitimate candidate to replace Hudak. Doug Ford has made his short political career notable by hinting that he’ll run for things. At various points over the past four years he was openly ready to run provincially and was courted and jilted by the Ontario PCs another time. He was reportedly ready to replace his brother as Toronto mayor when he was briefly thrown from office, and more recently hinted that he’d replace him on the ballot in the October election. A Globe investigation suggests that, at one, point, Doug would tell almost anyone who listened that he would be premier one day, and Rob has said the same thing live on the radio. But despite all this bluster, Doug Ford has run for office just once – in a cushy municipal ward vacated by his popular brother. The Conservatives really can’t find someone more qualified?
Andy Radia: If the Ontario election proves anything, it's that people are willing to forgive and forget. The Ford brand was once mighty and I think the brothers could eventually recover from their current messes. Having said that, there's going to be a lot of interest in the leadership from some heavyweight politicos from Ottawa. The likes of John Baird, Tony Clement and Lisa Raitt are rumoured to be at least considering it. I don't think Doug stands a chance against any of them.
Thomas Bink: Why not Doug Ford? Never overestimate the intelligence of the electorate. Last night I witnessed a party that had wasted billions of dollars in mind-boggling scandals get re-elected to a majority. A majority! So anything can happen in politics. Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger were governors. Ford has the charm and charisma that Hudak was desperately lacking, he’s got the connections and he knows how to stick to the talking points. Given where the PCs are now, I wouldn’t rule anything out.
Coutts: I think you’re giving the Ford brand too much value. Sure, the resiliency of Ford Nation is without question at this point. But there’s a big difference between Rob Ford running in a local election and Doug running to represent the province. Despite all of Rob’s issues, he’s seen as a man of the people; he’s their messiah. Doug has the name but not the cult-like following. Mayoral campaign polls that replace Rob’s name on the ballot with Doug’s underline this point. He can’t replace Hudak now. Maybe in four years, if he wins a seat at Queen’s Park in the next election. But I’ll believe that when I see it.
Radia: Again, I think there are 'better' candidates for the PCs to go with, but Matt, I think you are forgetting that in politics one year is an eternity. And if we're comparing the Ford brothers, I think you've got to give Doug the advantage: he has the name, he can adopt 'the following' and he doesn't have the same baggage as Rob. Sure, he's got some skeletons in his closet but no smoking gun (or should that be smoking crack?).
Bink: Bah-dum-dum! I agree with Andy. By the time Ontarians have to go to the polls again, the whole Rob Ford fiasco will likely be a memory, and Doug will have created his own history, good or bad. Sure, it appears like a long shot now, but who knows. The PCs clearly need a shakeup, and maybe a straight-shooting Ralph Klein character will be seen as the answer. Again, I’d never count anything out in the world of politics.
Coutts: My question is what Doug Ford will be doing between now and then. He’s not currently seeking a council seat, he missed out on this round of Queen’s Park seats. Hard to stay in the political conversation for four years if he’s not sitting in the political arena. Hard, but I suppose not impossible.
Bink: I’m pretty sure we'll be hearing from Doug Ford for a long time to come – whether we want it or not.
Andy Radia and Matt Coutts are Yahoo Canada News contributors. Thomas Bink is the managing editor.
(Photos courtesy The Canadian Press)