January 25, 2018 – In a game-changing moment just four months before the provincial election, the Ontario PC Leader resigned as leader early this morning under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations. With his resignation, the Tories are left scrambling to fill the party’s leadership.

What We Know Now
  • The party executive will hold an emergency meeting on Thursday evening.
  • The PC Caucus will meet on Friday morning to elect an interim leader, in accordance with the party’s constitution.
ARTICLE 23 – INTERIM LEADER

· 23.1 Upon the death, retirement or resignation of the Leader, and until the completion of the leadership election, the Caucus shall elect an interim Leader who shall be recognized as the Leader by the Party.

· 23.2 If the Caucus is unable to select an interim Leader in the circumstances described in paragraph 23.1, a joint meeting of the Caucus and the Executive shall make such selection.

Implications

There is rampant speculation while the Tories decide on:

  • Whether to select the interim leader from among the caucus ranks or outside (from the group of star candidates or other party stalwarts); and
  • Whether the interim leader will lead the Tories into the election or whether the party will hold a leadership race before the election to elect a permanent leader.

These implications are unprecedented, with a pre-election leadership race putting a heavy financial burden on the party and increasing the risk of internal politics undermining the party, so close to an election.

The leader – permanent or interim – who will ultimately bring the Tories into the election will have little time to transition into the role, with the parties launching into campaign mode by mid-April.

In the event that an interim leader takes the Tories into the election and comes out victorious, it places the party in an unusual position. The party constitution requires that the permanent leader be selected by a process that respects the right of every member to participate directly in that process. This could provide an opportunity for different factions within the party to jockey for power, and in effect, the party membership would directly elect the next Premier.

ARTICLE 25 – LEADERSHIP ELECTION

· 25.3 A leadership election shall respect the principle that each member of the Party has a right to one vote, and that the Executive shall ensure that the right to vote of each Party member is respected in any rules governing the leadership election.

2018 Election Speculation

Premier Kathleen Wynne today said that she would not call a snap election, but did not respond to the question of whether she would push the date forward to create a more level playing field. In a statement to the media and subsequent Q&A, the Premier chose to focus on the courageousness of the victims rather than the political implications.

Counsel is available to discuss the implications of these recent events for your organization. Please contact:

Philip Dewan or Caroline Pinto at 416.920.0716.