Tanya Granic Allen, a 37-year-old mother of four children and former president of the parents’ rights group Parents As First Educators, announced on Feb. 8, that she intended to run for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership.
In an email to PAFE supporters, Granic Allen resigned from the parental rights group in order to run. “I’m stepping up my action and I’m running for Ontario PC Party Leader.” She said she was running to win, but just as importantly she was the vehicle to send a message to the party and the public. She explained: “we have to make sure the social conservative voice is being respected. We need our message to be conveyed loudly and clearly.”
Granic Allen added: “when it comes to these leadership contests, we are far better off supporting candidates whom we can trust and who will speak out on our issues.” She cited as examples MP Brad Trost’s and former MP Pierre Lemieux’s campaigns in last year’s federal Conservative Party leadership race.
“I’m running because I want to be a strong voice for people who have been shut out by this process,” she told CP24. “And that includes opponents of Kathleen Wynne’s sex-ed curriculum, pro-lifers, free-speech advocates and social conservatives. They need a voice, and I’m here to be that voice.”
Granic Allen joined former MPP Christine Elliott, former Toronto city councilor Doug Ford, and first-time candidate Caroline Mulroney Lapham in the leadership race.
The Progressive Conservative Party called a quick, six-week leadership campaign in January following the resignation of former leader Patrick Brown after allegations of sexual misconduct against two women were reported by CTV on Jan. 24. On Feb. 16, Brown announced he would run to win back his old job but stepped down less than a week later. Brown, who marched in gay pride parades, flip-flopped on sex-ed, and announced last October that social conservative policies had no place in his “modern” and “inclusive” PC Party, cited fighting to help keep the Tories “centrist” as one of his three reasons for ending his Quixotic bid to regain his old job (the others being to fight the allegations and protect his family).
When Granic Allen announced her intention to run, Elliott welcomed her to the race and said in an email statement that she would allow free votes on conscience issues. Granic Allen told a gathering of social conservatives in Ottawa the next day that she doubted Elliott would have announced support for this bare minimum gesture to democratic rights and pro-life/pro-family voters had she herself not entered the race.
Elliott also said he was open to reviewing the controversial Ontario sex-ed curriculum. At the Manning Networking Conference, journalist Anthony Furey asked Elliott about these issues and reminded her that when she ran for the leadership against Brown in 2015, Elliott had raised the specter of social conservatives taking over the party. She said she would welcome all conservatives in the PC Party if she became leader.
While Mulroney Lapham said she would consult parents on future changes to all curriculum, she would not re-open the current sex-ed instructions. Ford initially announced he would review the policy, but after Granic Allen entered the race, made a stronger statement about the lack of consultations with parents and the need for curriculum to be age-appropriate.
On Feb. 14, Ford called a press conference on sex-ed. He said, “the way the sex-ed curriculum was rolled out was completely unacceptable.” Ford also said, “sex education should be about facts, not Liberal ideology. Parents should have first and final say on what they want to teach their kids past this point.”
Ford told Campaign Life Coalition in an interview that he was pro-life with exceptions for rape and incest, that he would repeal the sex-ed curriculum and introduce a new one that is age-appropriate after proper consultations with parents, and that he opposed the bubble zone law.
The PC ballot is preferential, meaning that eligible members of the party could list all candidates they support in order of preference.
Campaign Life Coalition encouraged its supporters to vote Granic Allen number one because she was the only pro-life, pro-family candidate. CLC disqualified Elliott and Mulroney Lapham for their pro-abortion, anti-family policies. CLC could not endorse Ford because he is not 100 per cent pro-life, but while they gave a red light to Elliott and Mulroney Lapham, they gave a yellow caution light and rated Ford as educable. CLC said in its Voter’s Guide, it “cannot recommend voting for the rest of the candidates at this time,” because they either opposed parental rights in education or were not sufficiently pro-life.
The vote is March 2-8, with the winner being announced March 10.
The Ontario general election is scheduled for June 7.