Ford backs Brown bid

Premier-des­ig­nate fea­tured in robo­calls urg­ing sup­port for late MP’s nephew

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - WAYNE LOWRIE

Premier-des­ig­nate Doug Ford has in­ter­vened in a lo­cal Con­ser­va­tive fed­eral nom­i­na­tion race to sup­port Colin Brown, who wants to suc­ceed his late un­cle as mem­ber of Par­lia­ment.

Only hours af­ter Brown an­nounced on Mon­day that he would seek the Con­ser­va­tive nom­i­na­tion for the by­elec­tion, vot­ers in Leeds-Grenville-Thou­sand-Is­lands and Rideau Lakes started re­ceiv­ing robo­calls from Ford, who urged them to sup­port Colin Brown.

In the recorded calls, Ford calls Brown a hard worker whom he knows per­son­ally. He said that Brown would do a good job as an MP.

Brown, who wants to fill the shoes of his late un­cle Gord, got to know Ford as a cam­paign worker dur­ing the re­cent pro­vin­cial elec­tion.

Brown worked on the Ford tour, rid­ing in ad­vance of the leader’s bus. He said he got to talk with Ford daily and that the two are friends.

“I was hon­oured that he was will­ing to do that for me,” said Brown, in ref­er­ence to Ford’s will­ing­ness to do the robo­calls. Brown said that Ford em­pha­sized a team ap­proach on the cam­paign trail and the work­ers be­came quite close.

“When I told the team that I was think­ing about run­ning for the nom­i­na­tion for my un­cle’s seat, I had noth­ing but great sup­port from them and they en­cour­aged me to do it,” Brown said. Brown said when Ford heard of his plans, he of­fered “to help out in any way he could.” They set­tled on the robo­calls.

The de­ci­sion by Brown ,25, to seek the Con­ser­va­tive nom­i­na­tion for the by­elec­tion came as a sur­prise to some of the lo­cal party brass, who were tout­ing re­tired se­na­tor Bob Runci­man as a “unity can­di­date” to carry the Con­ser­va­tive ban­ner in the by­elec­tion. The 75-year-old Runci­man would serve out the re­main­der of Gord Brown’s term and then step aside, al­low­ing the party the time to se­lect a can­di­date for the Oc­to­ber 2019 gen­eral elec­tion in the tra­di­tion­ally safe Tory seat.

The plan would have re­quired all would-be can­di­dates to stand down and let Runci­man take the by­elec­tion nom­i­na­tion un­op­posed – mean­ing that Brown’s an­nounce­ment has thrown a wrench into those plans.

Asked about Ford’s robo­calls, Runci­man called them per­plex­ing and cu­ri­ous, adding that it is un­usual for a pro­vin­cial party leader to cam­paign in favour of a can­di­date in a fed­eral race.

Runci­man said he has been bom­barded with calls from sup­port­ers urg­ing him to run for the nom­i­na­tion. One of those sup­port­ers found it cu­ri­ous that a cur­rent pro­vin­cial party leader would in­ter­vene to thwart a for­mer party leader, he said. (Runci­man, who spent 29 years at Queen’s Park as Leeds- Grenville MPP, served a stint as in­terim party leader.)

Runci­man said he doesn’t know Ford well, al­though he was good friends with Doug’s fa­ther, a for­mer MPP, and their two fam­i­lies va­ca­tioned at Ford’s condo in Florida.

Runci­man said he likes to think that Ford didn’t know that he was in­ter­ested in run­ning be­fore he en­dorsed Brown.

“But if he did, then ‘per­plexed’ would be the word I’d use,” Runci­man said.

Runci­man sup­ported Caro­line Mul­roney dur­ing the Tory lead­er­ship cam­paign, but he didn’t think it had an in­flu­ence on Ford’s de­ci­sion to back Brown.

Cory Hann, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive Party, said the party would never anoint a can­di­date if qual­i­fied Con­ser­va­tives were in­ter­ested in run­ning.

If two or more can­di­dates want the job, then the party would al­low the rid­ing mem­bers make the choice in a “free and open” con­test, he said.

Even if only one can­di­date wanted the nom­i­na­tion, that per­son would be ac­claimed by the party, Hann said.

Runci­man said he will de­cide in the next few days whether to run or not. He said he has been swamped by calls from party mem­bers urg­ing him to run.

Sev­eral oth­ers have in­di­cated that they are in­ter­ested in run­ning if he doesn’t, Runci­man said. He said he will make his de­ci­sion soon so as not to keep the other can­di­dates on the hook.

The Con­ser­va­tives have yet to set a date for the by­elec­tion nom­i­na­tion. Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau has yet to call the by­elec­tion. Trudeau has un­til Oct. 31 to set the date.

Colin Brown, sec­ond from left,poses with Graeme Brown, left, Doug Ford, Sean Ed­ward and Chance Brown. (FACE­BOOK)

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