Ontario Premier Doug Ford is facing another high-profile resignation just months away from the provincial election as sources say Christine Elliott, his deputy premier, is poised to announce she’s leaving politics.
Elliott has served as health minister since Ford’s Progressive Conservatives took office in 2018, putting her at the forefront of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Multiple sources tell CBC News that Elliott will announce Friday she is stepping down from her cabinet posts and will not run in the June 2 election.
On Thursday evening, officials representing Ford and Elliott neither confirmed nor denied CBC’s information. A spokesperson for the Ontario PC Party did not respond to a request for comment.
The announcement will make Elliott the second senior member of Ford’s cabinet to step down this year. Rod Phillips, who was serving as minister of long-term care, announced his resignation in January.
Elliott came within a whisker of beating Ford in the 2018 Ontario PC leadership race. Although more members voted for her than Ford in their head-to-head race on the third and final ballot, Elliott lost by a margin of one per cent in the party’s mathematically complex points system.
That was her third unsuccessful leadership bid after losing to Patrick Brown in 2015 and placing third in 2009 when the PCs chose Tim Hudak.
Elliott, a lawyer who turns 67 next month, has been an MPP for 13 years. She was first elected in 2006, but left politics for a three-year stretch after losing the 2015 leadership race.
During that hiatus, then-premier Kathleen Wynne appointed Elliott to be Ontario’s first patient ombudsman.
Elliot represents the riding of Newmarket-Aurora. Her resignation means the PCs will need to nominate a candidate to run in her place. The official start of the election campaign is scheduled for May 4.
Elliott’s late husband Jim Flaherty served as Ontario’s finance minister under PC premier Mike Harris and as Canada’s finance minister under Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper.