That’s Prime Minister Doug Ford’s message to Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie as she prepares to run for Liberal Ontario leadership.
“My question is, why did it take so long? He has been campaigning for five years,” Ford told the Star on Tuesday.
“My other message to Bonnie is, go ahead. Go ahead,” said the Progressive Conservative prime minister.
Despite his bravado, Ford, who was re-elected on June 2 with an expanded majority, stressed that he has a lot of work to do before the 2026 campaign.
“I don’t take anything for granted. We are going to work hard and people will have that option in the future,” she said.
“I am going to concentrate on what we are doing. I don’t care what Bonnie is doing to promote herself, and that’s it.”
Ford’s comments came after Crombie launched an exploratory committee on leadership of more than 40 prominent liberals.
Notable Grits who have urged her to run include former cabinet ministers Dwight Duncan, Dipika Damerla, Brad Duguid, Steve Peters and Reza Moridi, and veterans Tim Murphy, Jack Siegel and Qasir Dar, co-author of a mortem on the electoral defeat of the party in 2022.
A popular three-term mayor who won 78.5 percent of the popular vote in the Oct. 24 municipal election, Crombie spent Tuesday in a media blitz: By midafternoon she had already conducted 23 media interviews.
She was mischievous when told that Ford had thrown down the gauntlet.
“If the Liberals of Ontario place their trust in me, I would like to challenge the prime minister, if he continues to be the leader of the Ontario CP,” the mayor said.
The Star reported on Monday that a Crombie candidacy is privately seen by the Conservatives as an existential threat to a party that won the last two elections and ended nearly 15 years of Liberal rule in 2018.
Crombie, a former Liberal MP who was never in the governments of former prime ministers Kathleen Wynne or Dalton McGuinty, said the Grits “moved too far to the left” in recent years.
She believes his centrist approach and experience in big-city government may turn voters away from Ford’s conservatives, especially in and around the Greater Toronto area.
The Liberals, who lack the dozen seats needed for official party status in the 124-member legislature, are looking for a savior after successive beatings by Ford’s Tories.
New Democrat Marit Stiles is the official leader of the opposition with 30 MPP, seven from the Liberals and 81 from the Tories. There are also three Independents, one Green and two vacancies.
So far, Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith (Beaches-East York) and Liberal MP Ted Hsu (Kingston and Islands) are the only registered candidates in the Grits leadership race. according to ontario elections.
Erskine-Smith officially entered on May 16, and Hsu filed his paperwork last Saturday.
Others considering offers are Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi (Central Ottawa), a former provincial cabinet minister and former chair of the Ontario Liberal Party, and MPs Stephanie Bowman (Don Valley West) and Adil Shamji (Don Valley East). .
The contest will be decided on December 2 using a new one-member ranked voting system and a vote similar to how the Conservatives choose their leaders.
To enter the race, candidates must pay a fee of $100,000 plus a refundable deposit of $25,000.
Crombie will remain as mayor before making the final decision to formally enter the race later this year.
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