'Bring it on': Ontario Premier Doug Ford targets Bonnie Crombie over leadership bid

WATCH ABOVE: ‘Bring it on,’ Ontario Premier Doug Ford said of Bonnie Crombie’s bid to lead the Ontario Liberals. ‘Let’s get on with the show, run for leader and let’s make this thing happen,’ he said. Global News’ Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Colin D’Mello has the latest.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford took direct aim at Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie criticizing her for not stepping down from her role as she explores a potential leadership bid for the Ontario Liberal Party.

Crombie unveiled a 40-person exploratory committee and unveiled a campaign website on Tuesday that targeted the Ford government’s policies on health care, education and affordability.

“Bring it on,” Ford said at a manufacturing-related announcement in London, Ont. “Let’s get on with the show, run for leader and let’s make this thing happen.”

Crombie’s entry into the race could pose a legitimate challenge to the Ford government’s attempt at scoring an electoral hat trick with a third election victory in 2026.

Her connection to the Peel region is widely viewed as an asset, especially given the 12 provincial ridings between Mississauga and Brampton that were swept by the Progressive Conservative party in 2022, giving Ford a larger majority for his second term in office.

“(The Ontario PC party) absolutely will and should take Bonnie Crombie seriously,” said Mitch Hiempel, director of campaigns and government relations with Enterprise Canada. “She looks like a serious contender and on top of the Liberal brand, that alone makes them look competitive.”

In an interview with Global News, Crombie claimed she would be able to win “all” of the seats in Mississauga if she gets to lead the Liberal Party into the next election.

“I too grew my support (in Mississauga) over the past three elections so I know that they trust me and the management style I bring, the openness, the transparency, the accountability,” Crombie said.

When asked about Crombie’s leadership bid, Ford lashed out claiming Crombie was putting her “political agenda” ahead of the residents of Mississauga.

“It’s not about the people of Mississauga. I’m going to take care of the people in Mississauga, and Bonnie is going to be running around the province, not worrying about the people of Mississauga,” Ford said.

The premier also criticized Crombie’s decision to remain on as the mayor of Mississauga while running to become leader of the provincial party, and suggested the city needs new leadership.

“You can’t put your butt on both sides of the fence,” Ford said. “I think the best thing to do, she runs against me, we get a new mayor in Mississauga.”

Unlike Ontario MPPs who are required to resign their seats to run in another election, municipal councilors and mayors don’t face similar requirements.

  • In Toronto, Josh Matlow and Brad Bradford launched campaigns for the Mayoral by-election while remaining as sitting city councilors and even attending council meetings.
  • In 2022, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown ran in the federal Conservative Party leadership race and stayed on as the head of city council, even stylizing himself as ‘Mayor Brown.’
  • In 2014, Doug Ford registered to run for Toronto Mayor on Sept. 12, while his term as city councilor ended on Nov. 30.
  • In 2010, Rob Ford registered to run for Toronto Mayor on March 25, despite there being eight months left in his term as city councilor.

Additionally, two of the registered candidates for Ontario Liberal leader are also working politicians currently representing constituents in Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park.

Ontario Liberal MPP Ted Hsu and Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith are the only officially registered candidates in the leadership race. Ontario MPP Adil Shamji and Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi have also been exploring a bid.

Crombie said she would take a leave of absence from her full-time job if the race for Liberal leader required more of her attention.

The party will select the next leader in December.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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