Caroline Mulroney says she’s ‘new’ and ‘fresh’ and can get Tories back on track
Caroline Mulroney jumps into the Progressive Conservative leadership race Monday hoping to be an agent of change for a scandal-plagued party.
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
Caroline Mulroney jumps into the Progressive Conservative leadership race Monday hoping to be an agent of change for a troubled party.
“I’m the candidate that’s new, who’s fresh and can offer a new perspective on how we can get Ontario back on track,” the Harvard-educated lawyer told the Star on Sunday.
“It’s been 15 years of Liberal government and people are sick and tired. They really want something completely new, something different.”
Mulroney, the 43-year-old daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, received a major boost Sunday when potential rival Rod Phillips endorsed her candidacy.
She will square off in the March 10 leadership contest against former MPP Christine Elliott, runner-up to Brown in the 2015 leadership, and former Toronto councillor Doug Ford.
Unlike Elliott and Ford, who want to scrap the PC carbon tax, Mulroney will stick with the party’s centrist “People’s Guarantee” manifesto unveiled last November.
With a June 7 election looming, the Tories are scrambling to pick a new chief after ex-leader Patrick Brown resigned Jan. 25 amid allegations of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls when he was an MP.
Further plunging the party into chaos, PC party president Rick Dykstra, another former Tory MP, quit on Jan. 28 over allegations of sexual assault.
While both Brown and Dyktra have denied the accusations, which have not been proven in court, the Tories have been feverishly doing damage control.
Interim leader Vic Fedeli, who has promised to clean up “the rot” in the Tories, revealed Saturday there are 127,743 party members — that’s 72,481 fewer than the 200,224 Brown boasted about on Jan. 13.
Sources say once additional duplicates and fraudulent memberships are rooted out, the tally will be closer to 75,000 members.
In an interview at a Downsview arena while one of her sons played hockey, Mulroney stressed “this party is filled with people with integrity.”
Asked if the Tories can recover from a tumultuous week and a half, Mulroney insisted: “I know that we’re well-positioned.”
“These are things that happen within political parties and it’s hard, but the daily life of the people of Ontario is still the same. The realities that they face are still the same as they were two weeks ago,” she said, suggesting the Tories’ woes are more of an obsession within “the political bubble” of Queen’s Park than people’s doorsteps.
“People want us . . . to win this election,”
Ford, meanwhile, has derided her as part of the “party elite.”
“I don’t know Caroline Mulroney. I think she lived in the United States for the last 20 years, so I haven’t had the opportunity to meet her,” he said last week.
Mulroney, who is running for the Conservatives in York-Simcoe, noted she has resided in Ontario for most of her life and moved to Toronto 12 years ago.
“I did live in the United States, but he’s wrong — we did meet. We sat next to each other at a dinner about 10 years ago and I remember having a conversation with him. I remember listening to him. I am a great listener, obviously, because I remember it,” she said wryly.
“If he wants to run a campaign like that, that’s not the kind of campaign I want to run. That’s not the kind of person that I am. I want to see the best in people.”
The mother of four was hopeful that her sending her four kids to private school would not become political fodder — given that public education is the province’s second largest funding commitment after heath care.
“I believe every parent should be able to make the choice that’s best for them and their children,” she said, adding she wouldn’t revive the private school tax credits the Tories imposed while in office in 2003.
“As premier, I will advocate and work hard to make sure that our public education system is the strongest in the world,” she said.
“The Liberals can try to attack me. The problem is that this is not about that. This is about their record and making sure that they’re held to account for what they’ve done.”
Like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the son of Pierre Trudeau, Mulroney said she was mindful of the political advantages of a famous father.
“Name recognition is something that is a good thing as a rule,” she said.
“But my father left office when I was 19 years old and I have spent the last 25 years of my life studying hard, working hard, starting a charity, and raising my family, so that’s who I am. I’m Caroline and I’m running this campaign.”
Having grown up at 24 Sussex Drive, Mulroney is well aware of the impact politics can have on the children and spouses of candidates.
When she was 17 years old, Frank, an Ottawa satirical magazine, held a mock “Deflower Caroline Mulroney Contest” that sparked outrage across the country for its misogyny.
She said such episodes — as well as the highs and lows of her father’s political career — have steeled her.
“I’m prepared for that. My husband is prepared for that. I think because both my mother and father lived it I am in a good position to feel well-supported. I have people to go to when the days are a little bit more difficult.”
Vying to be the first female Ontario PC leader, Mulroney said it would be “fantastic” to face off against Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in the spring campaign.
One person she does not wish to see at Queen’s Park is Brown.
“He made the right decision by stepping aside as party leader,” she said, praising the women who came forward with allegations against him.
“It’s important that women feel they’re able to come forward and feel safe when they come forward. It takes a lot of bravery to do that and I admire them.”
More on Metronews.ca