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Rickford endorses Mulroney to lead Ontario PCs

Five former MPs and current PC MPP hopefuls, including Kenora-Rainy River candidate Greg Rickford, form bloc to simultaneously endorse Caroline Mulroney to lead Progressive Conservatives.
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Former MP and Ontario Progressive Conservative candidate in Kenora-Rainy River Greg Rickford on Friday endorsed Caroline Mulroney to lead the party. (tbnewswatch.com file photograph).

KENORA, Ont. – Greg Rickford is one of five former federal MPs and current provincial PC candidates to back Caroline Mulroney to be the next leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.

The bloc, which on Twitter referred to themselves as MP5, released statements Friday afternoon endorsing Mulroney's yet to be officially announced leadership bid.

In a further statement, Rickford said the group was "excited to bring our experience as MPs and our support for Caroline Mulroney as our next Ontario PC Party leader and premier of our great province."

The other MP5 members are London North Centre's Susan Truppe, Milton's Parm Gill, Hastings-Lennox and Addington's Daryl Kramp and Markham-Stoufville's Paul Calandra.

Mulroney, the daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, on Twitter acknowledged Rickford's support.

While the endorsements appear to confirm Mulroney's intentions to seek the leadership, the only two declared participants to this point in the race are Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, both of whom announced their candidacy earlier this week.

Ford, a former Toronto city councillor, finished as the runner-up to John Tory in that city's 2014 mayoral election and is making his debut on the provincial stage. Elliott, a nine-year Queen's Park veteran, is taking her third shot at the party leadership after most recently finishing second to Patrick Brown in 2015.

The Progressive Conservatives were left scrambling after Brown resigned hours after troubling sexual misconduct allegations were made public, leaving the party leaderless just months ahead of the June 7 election. The party's caucus last week selected MPP Vic Fedeli as their interim leader, though Fedeli has ruled out a bid for the permanent leadership.

The party will select their leader on March 10.