Eric Ames named interim leader

Phil Lees stepped down as leader of the Family Coalition Party.

Phil Lees stepped down as leader of the Family Coalition Party.

Phil Lees, leader of the Family Coalition Party of Ontario, resigned his position in a move made public by a Jan. 16 email to members and supporters.

According to long-time pro-life activist and FCP president Lynne Scime, Lees resigned to work full-time with the organization he founded, PEACE (Public Education Advocates for Christian Equity), a parental rights group. Scime told The Interim that there was a “great opportunity for Phil and parents” in dedicating his efforts to PEACE.

Eric Ames, a former educator who now runs a home-based communications consulting business and has served as the FCP communications director since 2011, has been named the interim leader. He told The Interim that as interest in the activities of PEACE grew both they and the FCP “realized that Lees needed to dedicate his time more to develop PEACE.”

The Stoney Creek native will lead the FCP until a new leader is chosen in November at the annual general meeting. Details of a possible leadership race will not be decided until the FCP board meeting on Jan. 25, after The Interim goes to press.

Ames said that as interim leader he will focus on helping the party prepare for the next election, such as getting “the headquarters operating in a more organized way.” “My hope is to keep the party running as smoothly as possible,” until the next leader is in place. Ames said he has not made a decision about whether he would seek the leadership.

There are currently 400 members and 2300 “contacts” on the FCP database. Ames said the long-term goal is to grow those numbers but the immediate goal is to “connect better with party members” which means “better communications and to get members more involved in advocacy between elections.” He said that communication needs to be more regular, noting that Impact, the party’s newsletter, was sent to the membership just twice in 2013 due to a lack of funds.

Ames also said he wants to meet more members in person in the next ten months.

He said the party needs to grow, but is careful not to impose his view of the party before the membership decides who the next leader will be.

With the possibility of the general Ontario election being called before the November AGM, Ames said he is aware that he could lead the party during the next campaign and intends to be a candidate. He said details of how this would work will be decided by the party executive and not the leader.