11/24/2014 09:18 EST | Updated 01/24/2015 05:59 EST

Ontario PC Leadership Race 2015: Candidates Slam Liberals At First Debate

SUDBURY, Ont. - Four candidates vying to lead the Ontario Progressive Conservatives spoke at their inaugural debate of using what they called Liberal cutbacks to health care against Premier Kathleen Wynne.

MPPs Christine Elliott, Vic Fedeli and Lisa MacLeod, and federal Conservative MP Patrick Brown, each took shots at the Wynne government during the Monday night debate in Sudbury, Ont.

Fielding several questions on health care from the crowd, each seized upon what they called examples of poor performance in health care and laid blame with the Liberals.

Fedeli chastised the government for what he said were cataract surgeries cancelled in order to help efforts to balance the budget.

Not present at the debate was the fifth candidate to enter the race so far, MPP Monte McNaughton.

Party members will vote by preferential ballot on either May 3 or May 7 and the results will be announced May 9 at the party's leadership convention in Toronto.

A possible wildcard in the race could be Doug Ford, brother of outgoing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Ford has said he is considering throwing his hat into the ring. A "Draft Doug Ford" campaign and accompanying website has been started by an unknown group of people calling themselves a grassroots movement.

Would-be candidates have until noon on Jan. 30 to file their nomination papers.

The Tory leadership hopefuls have talked about rebuilding the party and getting in touch with its base — a not-too-subtle criticism that in their view the party become disconnected from voters' concerns under former leader Tim Hudak, who resigned after his party's crushing defeat in the June provincial election.

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