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Canada

Doug Ford, brother of Toronto’s ex-mayor famous for smoking crack, to lead Ontario conservative party

Doug Ford is a former Toronto city councillor who made a late run for mayor in 2014 after his younger brother was diagnosed with cancer

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 1:37pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 March, 2018, 9:46pm

The new leader of Ontario’s conservative party is the brother of late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who became famous for smoking crack cocaine.

The Progressive Conservatives elected Doug Ford as the party’s new leader Saturday ahead of the June election in Canada’s most populous province.

Doug Ford is a former city councillor and was his brother’s most aggressive defender.

Rob’s Ford’s tenure as mayor of the country’s largest city was marred by revelations about his illegal drug use. He was repeatedly videotaped while intoxicated in public. Rob Ford died of cancer in 2016.

Doug Ford has himself been the subject of drug allegations.

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported in 2013 that he sold hashish for several years in the 1980s. He denied the allegations.

Many political analysts had expected the Progressive Conservatives to win the next election after 15 years of Liberal party rule.

“We’re going to spend the coming weeks getting the party in fighting shape, because the people of this province are ready for change,” Doug Ford said.

Ford’s victory was announced late Saturday without the fanfare that had been expected.

Hundreds of people had packed a hall north of Toronto expecting to celebrate a new party leader to replace the previous one who stepped down amid sexual misconduct allegations he denies.

Instead, after a 4.5-hour delay, the chair of the party’s leadership election organising committee dismissed the irate crowd with a terse statement about the need for a review of the results.

Doug Ford narrowly eked out a win over former provincial legislator Christine Elliott on the third ballot.

The Liberals said in a statement Saturday that under Ford the PCs would slash vital health care and education programmes and damage the economy.

“The billions in cuts they are promising, and the divisive social conservative policies they are championing will hurt Ontario’s economy and change our province for the worse,” Liberal Campaign Co-Chair Deb Matthews said.

Ontario’s broader manufacturing base has struggled with tougher foreign competition and is under threat from US trade protectionism, including tensions over steel and the risk that US President Donald Trump will quit the North American Free Trade Agreement.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said last week that the prospect of shifting voter alliances because of elections in Ontario, Quebec and Mexico, as well as US Congressional midterms, was one reason he wants the pace of talks to speed up.

Ford said one of his major aims will be improving the economy.

“We will return our province to where it belongs,” he said.

“Ontario will be open for business.’’

Associated Press and Bloomberg