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Mississauga mayor should quit her day job if she runs for Liberal party leader: Ford

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says Liberal leader hopeful Bonnie Crombie should quit her day job as mayor of Mississauga, Ont. Crombie is exploring a bid for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal party. Crombie is photographed on the steps of the Ontario Legislature, in Toronto on Thursday May 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie should quit her day job if she decides to run for the Liberal party leadership, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday.

Crombie recently said she's exploring a leadership bid for the provincial Liberals, who captured just eight seats in last year's election.

She will continue on as mayor while she mulls a leadership bid. 

Ford, whose Progressive Conservatives were re-elected with a majority, said it would be a "slap in the face" to Mississauga, Ont., residents for Crombie to remain mayor while running for Liberal leader.

"You can't put your butt on both sides of the fence," Ford said of Crombie.

Last week, the province unveiled proposed legislation that would see the dissolution of Peel Region, which covers the municipalities of Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon.

Crombie had long sought an independent Mississauga after taking over the fight from her predecessor, Hazel McCallion.

"We're making the largest change in the history of Mississauga and Peel, and this is all about Bonnie Crombie's political agenda," Ford said. 

Crombie said she puts Mississauga resident first.

"I work to manage our city's finances responsibly while driving the growth of our economy and build housing so all residents benefit," she said in a statement.

"Over the next few weeks, I look forward to initiating conversations with Liberals across Ontario, residents of Mississauga, and my family about a potential run for the Ontario Liberal party leadership."

On Tuesday,Crombietold The Canadian Press exploring a leadership bid while remaining mayor would not present any conflicts -- she would not back down from Ford either way. 

"I am who I am. I'm very direct, I'm very forward and you'll always know where you stand with me," she said. "I think the premier has bristled at some of my comments in the past and that shouldn't change."

Crombie said she's not looking for a seat in the legislature at the moment, but would travel the province talking to voters as part of her exploratory bid for leader.

"I think the party needs to be rebuilt and take some time and develop some policies along with the people of Ontario," she said.

Crombie describes herself as a centrist, fiscally conservative and socially progressive. She said the health-care system is underfunded, which she'd address as well as looking at shrinking class sizes for students across the province.

She said municipalities need more help to deal with the addictions and climate crises. 

Former Liberal leader Steven Del Duca resigned after last year's election that saw the party fail to secure official party status for the second consecutive vote.

A deadline of Sept. 5 has been set for candidates to register to run for Liberal leader. Contestants must pay an entry fee of $100,000 and a refundable $25,000 deposit.

Party members will cast their votes by ranked ballot on Nov. 25 and Nov. 26 and the Liberals will announce their new leader on Dec. 2.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2023.

Liam Casey and Allison Jones, The Canadian Press

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