Caroline Mulroney is urging her rivals in the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race to join her in calling for Patrick Brown to leave the contest, rather than fight to be the second choice of his supporters.
Mulroney made the push on Twitter Thursday, reiterating that a leadership race is no place for Brown — who stepped down as PC leader in late January amid sexual misconduct allegations and is now facing accusations of "crooked politics" from a fellow MPP — to clear his name.
"This is a leadership race for the future of our party and Patrick Brown needs to step aside," she tweeted. "He needs to put the party above himself."
Mulroney also referenced how the ranked-ballot system the PCs will use to elect their next leader could give the other candidates in the race — Christine Elliott, Doug Ford, and Tanya Granic Allen — pause before alienating Brown's backers.
"I hope the other candidates will join me in calling for him to step aside, instead of fighting for his second ballot support at the expense of our party and winning the next election," she wrote.
When asked to comment on Mulroney's tweets, Elliott's campaign spokesperson told HuffPost Canada the statement she released after Brown was officially greenlit to run for his old job would be their only response.
"Now is the time for our party to move forward. I remain the only candidate in this race with the ability to unite our members, and the experience to win the next election," Elliott said in a release Wednesday.
"Now, more than ever, my focus is on winning this leadership race so we can defeat Kathleen Wynne and deliver change to the people of Ontario. This is why I am asking all members of our party and every Ontarian to join my campaign."
Ontario Tories using ranked ballots
PC members will choose their next leader by ranking candidates by order of preference on an electronic ballot. If no leadership contender wins 50 per cent on the first ballot — an unlikely event in a five-person race — the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the second choices of his or her supporters are tallied. The process repeats until someone wins a clear majority.
In such contests, top contenders often steer clear of forcefully calling out other candidates at the risk of costing themselves later support.
Before Brown jumped into the race Friday, both Elliott and Mulroney said they would support him running again for the Ontario Tories, provided he could first clear his name. They both blasted his stunning decision as a distraction.
Ford released a statement last week saying that while Brown should focus on clearing his name, PCs need to focus on beating the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne in June.
Ontario Tories will chose their next leader on March 10. The next leadership debate will be held on Feb. 28 in Ottawa and moderated by HuffPost Canada's Ottawa bureau chief, Althia Raj.
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