Local Progressive Conservative candidate Greg Rickford has recently thrown his full support behind newly-crowned party leader Doug Ford.
“I was not critical of Doug through the campaign frankly because, outside of his work as a Toronto city councillor, I hadn't known or understood too much about him,” Rickford explained during a conference call Monday morning.
“We will certainly be able to learn more about him in the coming days, weeks, and months,” he noted.
“I'm looking forward to welcoming him out to Northwestern Ontario.”
After the abrupt resignation of former PC leader Patrick Brown in late January, Rickford threw his support behind Caroline Mulroney, one of four candidates seeking to take over the party's helm.
“Up close, Caroline ran a exceptional campaign," he noted. "Very classy, very hard-working.”
Although Rickford was disappointed that Mulroney's leadership bid fell short, he said he will put his support behind Ford.
“When leadership campaigns are over, despite what people say or despite what people think, the expertise is to focus on unity,” he reasoned.
Rickford said Ford has an appeal that resonates well with southern Ontarians, and he is eager to see how he is received here in the northwest.
“He polled very well across the province," Rickford noted. ”He has a brand and style of politics that folks out in Northern Ontario will warm up to.
“Certain aspects of his approach, that fight for the little guy, look for waste in government spending, are things that [I think] resonate pretty well with people out here,” he added.
“From everything I've heard so far, folks are excited.”
Rickford said Ford is a very successful businessman and family man.
“I think that's plenty of experience, and Doug will have at his disposal a number of folks, [including] myself, a former senior cabinet minister [in the Harper government].”
“I still spend a lot of time learning more and more about the intricacies and details of provincial politics,” he added.
Rickford is very confident in Ford's ability to win the June 7 election, with recent polling numbers showing Ontarians' disapproval for the Wynne government.
“Eight out of 10 people in Ontario right now want Kathleen Wynne gone, so I think Doug has some leeway, some breathing room if you will, in a compressed period of time,” he remarked.
Rickford, meanwhile, is looking forward to running for the PCs here in Kenora-Rainy River, and working to improve Northwestern Ontario.
“My priority and my commitment is, of course, running to be the member of provincial parliament for Kenora-Rainy River, and I look forward to that,” he said.
“In fact, I can't wait.”
The local Liberals and NDP have yet to choose their candidates to run against Rickford here.