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Caroline Mulroney running to lead PCs

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TORONTO—Caroline Mulroney, the Toronto lawyer and daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, is running to become the leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party.

Mulroney confirmed the news, which has been rumoured for more than a week, in a series of interviews yesterday afternoon at a hockey arena in north Toronto.

She took questions from reporters between watching her two boys play on their 'AAA' teams.

The 43-year-old mother of four said despite the recent turmoil within the party after the sudden resignation of former leader Patrick Brown, the Tories can come together and win the June 7 provincial election.

“After 15 years of Liberal government, we need a fresh change,” she said.

“People are tired," she noted. ”They want a new government. They want something new.

“So I decided to put my name forward.”

Mulroney believes she's the candidate to unite the disparate wings of the PC family—despite never having held elected office.

“I am committed to making sure that we deliver this change," she stressed. ”People deserve a government that cares about them.

“As I've been knocking on doors, I know that I can be that leader and provide that leadership to the party.”

After taking a quick break between interviews to snack on french fries her husband, Andrew Lapham, brought by, Mulroney got down to business, addressing the criticisms which already have been levelled at her.

“That means they're nervous,” she said of her competitors in the race.

“I can't control what other campaigns do," she added. "All I can do is make sure I can run a campaign that's true to the kind of person that I am.”

Mulroney already has been criticized for spending part of her life outside of Canada—she attended Harvard and New York University—but she says the attacks don't hold up.

“That's just a misstatement of fact," she remarked. "I've lived the majority of my life in Canada and Ontario.”

Just hours after confirming she was in the race, Mulroney received a key endorsement from another rumoured candidate.

Former Postmedia executive Rod Phillips said he will not seek the leadership and will throw is support behind Mulroney.

Mulroney also weighed in on some of the most difficult issues facing the Tories as they try to re-group following Brown's resignation.

She intends to consult party members about the PC platform—the so-called People's Guarantee—but says it's too early to say if she'd want to make changes to the document.

“I'll make sure we're open to conversations, but it's Day One of my campaign,” she noted.

Mulroney said she will stick to the PC pledge to cancel the Ontario government's cap-and-trade climate change plan but hinted she will keep the Tory platform's carbon tax, which funds most of the spending in the plan.

Mulroney also said she will not re-open the divisive debate about the Liberal government's sex-education curriculum update.

Mulroney's entry into the race means there now will be two high-profile women competing for the Tory reins.

Former Tory legislator Christine Elliott threw her hat in the ring in the last week.

Toronto politician Doug Ford, brother of the city's late former mayor, Rob Ford, also is in the running.

Candidates have until Feb. 16 to register, with the new leader to be announced March 10.

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