OTTAWA — Roman Baber, a lawyer and former Toronto-area member of provincial parliament, is running for federal Conservative party leader. He was ousted from Ontario Premier Doug Ford's caucus in early 2021 after pushing for an end to lockdowns, but has found himself in a stiff competition with more prominent leadership candidates for the votes of party members who are frustrated with pandemic measures.
Born: Aug. 2, 1980.
Early years: Baber was born in the former Soviet Union and his family moved to Israel in 1989. Six years later, they immigrated to Canada, settling down in North York.
Before politics: Baber completed an undergraduate degree in political science at York University, then went to law school at Western University, during which he worked at a community legal aid clinic. He practised commercial litigation for 12 years.
Political record: In an upset, Baber beat former finance minister Joe Oliver for the Progressive Conservative nomination in the York Centre riding. He won the seat as Doug Ford came to power and as support for the Ontario Liberals, who had held the riding for decades, totally collapsed. Baber earned notoriety for breaking ranks with the Ford government on its autism program and later on COVID-19 lockdowns. He was kicked out of the caucus in January 2021 and opted not to run for re-election in 2022.
Family: Baber's significant other is Nancy Marchese, the CEO and founder of Breakthrough Autism, a Toronto-area service provider.
Quote: "I think that Canadians are starting to appreciate that we should entertain a different perspective over the prevailing narrative of the last two years. I think that many young Canadians would like to see a return to more hopeful times, and I am optimistic that if the Conservative party stays united after this leadership race, it can form the next government."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2022.
Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press