TORONTO — A Liberal MP with a history of squaring off against Ontario Premier Doug Ford has closed the door on a bid to become the next leader of the provincial Grits.
But Adam Vaughan, who served with Ford on Toronto city council for four tumultuous years before making the jump to the House of Commons in 2014, says he won't be quiet when it comes to his old rival.
"I will be taking him on as a federal member of Parliament and as a citizen of Toronto in every opportunity," Vaughan said of the premier. "Doug Ford need not worry about me disappearing into the good night. I plan to be around... to make sure I'm still in office when he isn't."
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He emerged as a possible contender for the Ontario Liberal crown in June after the then-governing party was reduced to just seven seats in a provincial election. Former premier Kathleen Wynne resigned as leader but has stayed on as MPP for the Toronto riding of Don Valley West.
Vaughan, who represents Toronto's Spadina-Fort York in the House, told HuffPost Canada Wednesday that he completed the nomination process over the holiday break to run again in October's federal election.
The MP said that while he mulled a jump to provincial politics at the urging of some "pretty serious people," a younger leader is needed for what he anticipates will be a 10 to 15 year project of fully rebuilding the party.
"I think it's time for renewal as opposed to somebody of my age coming in," the 57-year-old said, adding he is happy to continue working on the federal housing strategy as parliamentary secretary to the social development ministers.
At the end of the day, people in Ontario are going to realize that they didn't elect a government, they elected a loudspeaker.Liberal MP Adam Vaughan
Despite at least one recent poll suggesting the party has rebounded to second place, Vaughan said it's time for some new leadership "right across the board" in the province.
"The electorate has taken their shot at the Liberal Party of Ontario and now, with buyer's regret, is looking at what's happening at Queen's Park and realizing there is a better way to do things."
As a city councillor, Vaughan's criticism of controversial former mayor Rob Ford also brought him into conflict with his brother Doug, who served one term at city hall between 2010 and 2014. After Rob Ford died of cancer in 2016, however, Vaughan paid tribute to his old foe in the House.
When Premier Ford moved in July to unexpectedly slash Toronto city council almost in half, Vaughan blasted the move as "vindictive and destructive." In September, the MP rose in the House to say local democracy was "under attack" in Canada's largest city.
Federal Liberals and Ontario Tories have also publicly clashed on Ottawa's carbon pricing plan and the costs of caring for asylum seekers.
Vaughan still doesn't think much of the Ford government.
"At the end of the day, people in Ontario are going to realize that they didn't elect a government, they elected a loudspeaker," he said. "If all they want is bumper stickers, they'll get bumper stickers. But if they want good government, they're going to start looking at other political alternatives."
Liberal whip also passing on looming race
Vaughan isn't the only Liberal MP from Ontario to take a pass on running to lead their provincial cousins. Ajax MP Mark Holland, the chief government whip, told The Globe and Mail that he decided against a leadership bid after giving the idea serious consideration. Holland will also re-offer for the federal Liberals in the next general election.
Though a contest to name Wynne's successor hasn't been announced, former cabinet ministers Mitzie Hunter and Michael Coteau are often cited as potential candidates. Both Toronto MPPs are in their mid-40s, according to Toronto Life.
Sandra Pupatello, who served as a senior cabinet minister under former premier Dalton McGuinty and finished second to Wynne in a 2013 leadership contest, is also considered a possible contender.