08/28/2015 12:40 EDT

Christine Elliott Resigns As MPP For Whitby-Oshawa

Christine Elliott has stepped down as a member of Ontario's provincial Parliament just months after losing the Progressive Conservative leadership race.

Elliott, first elected in 2006 in the riding of Whitby-Oshawa, served as deputy leader under Tim Hudak and was considered the top contender to replace him. Instead, former Tory MP Patrick Brown was elected party leader in May after a race that turned acrimonious at points.

Elliott had not been seen in the legislature since losing to Brown.

She released a statement to media saying the decision to step down was a difficult one.

"While I put my name forward to lead our party, party members made a different choice. I full respect our members' decision and I wish my colleagues and the Party every success in the future," she said in the statement.

"I entered public life in 2006 to advocate for the rights of vulnerable people and their families. Although my role will change, I remain committed to advocating for a fully inclusive Ontario where all people can live lives of purpose and dignity."

Brown, currently running in a byelection next Thursday in the riding of Simcoe North, released a statement thanking Elliott for her service to constituents and the party.

"Christine has been a tireless advocate for her constituents and Ontario, and an esteemed member of our Caucus," he said. "We appreciate her well wishes and in turn wish her the best as she embarks on this next chapter of her life."

MPP Lisa MacLeod, who also ran for PC leader before dropping out to endorse Elliott, took to Twitter to laud her colleague's advocacy work.

Elliott warned in her leadership race that the Ontario PCs, losers of four straight elections to the Liberals, had become a "toxic brand" in need of new direction.

"It doesn't make me happy to say that, but the reality is there's large groups of people that don't want to hear what we have to say on any particular topic," she told The Canadian Press. "We really need to change the tone and direction of the party."

Elliott is the widow of late finance minister Jim Flaherty, who represented the riding federally.

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