MacLeod seeks Tory leadership

OTTAWA – Four months can make a big difference.

In June, Lisa MacLeod was subdued, and even stunned, as she made a quick appearance at the Black Dog Bistro in Manotick following her party’s defeat to the Kathleen Wynne-led Ontario Liberal government in the provincial election.

Sun., Oct. 19, with the reset button having been pressed, a fierce and passionate MacLeod resurfaced at the National Arts Centre as she launched her campaign to become the leader for the Ontario PC Party.

She kick-started the leadership campaign in Ottawa with her family in front of a room packed with 300 supporters. As leader, Mac- Leod said she is prepared to do the heavy lifting to restore the party, build a credible team, and put an action plan in place to rebuild the province.

Her focus will be on redefining and rebranding a party that clearly lost its way in the June election. Despite being predicted by many experts to win just days before voting, Tim Hudak’s PCs suffered a humiliating defeat to the Liberals. Hudak resigned as party leader before election night ended.

“As Progressive Conservatives we need to believe in what we stand for again,” Mac- Leod said. “They are consistent with the beliefs of soccer moms and new Ontarians, just like me, who should be voting for us, who we need to vote for us, but who aren’t with us just yet. I am the leader who will carry that message. When we present the voter with a clear and compelling alternative to the failed leadership of the government in power, our province will in turn believe in us.”

MacLeod spoke about the glory days of Ontario, and arriving in Ottawa in her early 20s with $200 in her pocket and a student loan.

“I slept on my friend’s sofa until I could afford a place on my own,” she said. “It is here where I first experienced the unlimited opportunity that Ontario offered. I remember walking down Elgin Street in those first few months chuckling in disbelief. In almost every storefront the windows were covered with ‘help wanted’ signs. Jobs needed to be filled throughout this city and the rest of Ontario. Sadly, now in many parts of Ottawa, as well as elsewhere in Ontario, those signs are replaced with ‘for lease’ signs.”

MacLeod promised to lead Ontario to economic recovery and restore its position as Confederation’s leader, under a strong and united PC party.

“After 10 years of Liberal governments, the province I came to is no longer the land of unlimited opportunity,” she said. “I believe that with your help we can change that.”

MacLeod, predictably yet cleverly, effectively transitioned from her recollection of Ontario’s glory days to an attack on a Liberal government that has a weak track record despite their easy victory over the PCs in the last election.

“When I chose Ontario as my home, we were a leader in Confederation; we led other provinces in job creation,” she said. “This was a place where people like me from other provinces and different parts of the world came to land their first job, buy their first home and to raise their family. We knew like those born in Ontario that we could count on reasonable taxes, good schools, and a strong healthcare system to meet the needs of all Ontarians. In the last decade, under the Liberal government, that has changed.”

MacLeod said Ontario now has the largest debt in the country, larger than every other province combined. She said the debt compromises the very public services – healthcare and education – that are cherished the most by Ontarians. As a result, she said that instead of young people coming to Ontario for an opportunity, Ontarians are looking for greener pastures in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Newfoundland.

MacLeod joins MP Patrick Brown, and MPPs Christine Elliot, Vic Fedeli and Monte McNaughton in the leadership race.  The Ontario PC Party will be selecting its next leader in May 2015.

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