POLITICS
11/01/2011 03:23 EDT | Updated 01/01/2012 05:12 EST

Elliott denies quitting to let husband Jim Flaherty seek Ont. PC leadership

TORONTO - The wife of federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says she has no intention of resigning from the Ontario legislature so her husband can return to Queen's Park to seek the provincial Tory leadership.

Christine Elliott, deputy leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservatives, flatly denied a Toronto Star report suggesting she was ready to resign just weeks after being re-elected so Flaherty could challenge current PC Leader Tim Hudak.

"It’s important for my constituents in Whitby-Oshawa to know I ran in this election fully intending to stay, and I’m not stepping aside from my seat for my husband or anybody else," Elliott told reporters Tuesday.

"I’m committed to my job as a representative of Whitby Oshawa and as deputy (PC) leader and critic here at Queen’s Park."

Elliot said Flaherty also likes his job as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's top minister, and has no plans to return to Ontario to run for leader of the provincial Tories, a job he sought in 2003 but lost to Ernie Eves.

"He has no intention of doing that," she said.

"He’s very happy where he is with his job as finance minister."

There is "no question" Elliott plans to stay on as a member of the legislature until the next provincial election.

"Absolutely, yes," she said.

Hudak will face a leadership review at a party convention next February, which is automatic after the Tories lose an election.

The Elliott-Flaherty story was the second in a week to cause problems for Hudak, whose critics say he a blew the lead he had heading into the recent election campaign. Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals were elected to a third term Oct. 6, although reduced to a minority.

Veteran Tory Frank Klees ignored Hudak's order that no Tories run for Speaker of the legislature, which would have eliminated the one-vote majority the combined opposition parties hold over the Liberals.

Klees was eventually convinced to pull out of the Speaker's race, forcing Hudak to shuffle his shadow cabinet just days after it was first announced to bring his former leadership rival back into the fold.

Elliott insisted the caucus was united behind Hudak, despite the fact Klees apparently launched his bid to become Speaker after he was denied the deputy leader's job, which went to Elliott.

"He’s assured me he stands behind me as deputy leader," she said.

Elliott also confirmed she intends to second the nomination of Liberal Donna Cansfield to become the first female Speaker of the Ontario legislature.

Three other Liberals are also in the running for the prestigious job, which comes with a salary of almost $153,000 and an apartment inside the legislature building.