SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- John Baird’s surprise decision to retire from politics was a key factor behind Lisa MacLeod’s withdrawal from the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race, the MPP for Nepean-Carleton said Friday.
MacLeod told supporters at her Ottawa campaign headquarters she would not have quit the race if Baird had not announced he was resigning as foreign affairs minister and would soon quit his Ottawa West-Nepean seat in Parliament.
“I’m going to be brutally honest with you, no I wouldn’t have. I’d still be in the race,” she said. “That, coupled with the fact that Vic Fedeli had gotten out of the race made it very clear that I had some very tough decisions to make.”
MacLeod, who has a young daughter attending school in Ottawa, said she was getting a lot of “pressure” from constituents to “come back home” and run as a federal candidate.
It has been a “very intense” few days contemplating her future, added MacLeod, who insisted she still hasn’t decided if she will seek Baird’s seat once he officially resigns as an MP.
“The last 72 hours have changed my political reality,” she said. “I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks what I decide in terms of whether I’m going to pursue a federal career.”
MacLeod’s other decision was to throw her support behind perceived front-runner Christine Elliott, the deputy PC leader and widow of former finance minister Jim Flaherty, who was also endorsed by Fedeli when he withdrew on Wednesday.
Her decision to abandon a leadership bid comes on the day candidates must post $50,000 to stay in the race, which was one of the reasons Fedeli cited when he pulled out, but MacLeod insisted money was not the issue.
“We actually had to recall our $50,000 cheque for the deposit in the last 24 to 48 hours,” she said.
The two other remaining candidates for the PC leadership are London-area MPP Monte McNaughton and Barrie MP Patrick Brown, the only hopeful who doesn’t have a seat in the Ontario legislature.
Progressive Conservatives across the province will be eligible to vote in early May for the leader to replace Tim Hudak, who resigned after the Tories’ fourth consecutive election loss last June.