Thank you to our caucus colleagues and our wonderful staff for joining us here today.
It is hard to believe that it was only 39 days ago that you bestowed upon me the honour and privilege of serving as Leader during this critical time in our Party’s history.
In 5 days, our Party will elect a new Leader, and Ontario’s next Premier.
That means that today is the last time we will meet as a caucus while I am Leader.
So it seems fitting to present an update on the state of our PC Party.
When I decided to not seek the permanent leadership, my commitment to you, and our party membership, was to work tirelessly to ensure that our Party would be in the best possible shape for the incoming Leader.
That meant acknowledging the problems within our Party.
Some have said they would have preferred we swept these problems under the rug.
But, just as in life, if you ignore your problems, they will only get worse.
Leaders can either pass the buck or deal with the problems head on.
Our membership has a right to know.
You have a right to know.
And I pulled no punches.
As a life-long business-person, I looked at the situation through a business lens.
You assess, you develop a work-out solution for each issue, and you implement the strategy.
That’s what we did, and we achieved our goals.
So, once again today, as always, I will give you an honest assessment of where we stand.
My friends, the state of our party is strong.
This update covers issues since last week’s Caucus meeting – the past issues have been well-documented.
Our IT system has undergone important and much needed updates that will serve us well during the upcoming election and into the future.
We have ended a needless lawsuit against Jim Karahalios; a loyal conservative and long-time party member.
Excessive spending that occurred in the past has been reined in.
Contracts for unknown services have been cancelled.
Now, some said our donors would be repelled by learning of this news.
In fact, the opposite has occurred.
Today, I am pleased to announce that our fundraising totals are at record highs, and rising every day.
Our donors, the lifeblood of any political party, have responded to our reforms by opening their chequebooks.
In fact, two weeks ago, we had the third best fundraising night in our Party’s history.
This is unprecedented for a political party in the midst of a leadership race.
In addition, our volunteers have increased 21 fold.
Every activist metric for our party is stronger today than it was 6 weeks ago.
And public opinion indicates that the Progressives Conservatives remain Ontario’s choice to form the next government.
Indeed, our new Leader will inherit a Party that is ready to fight and win the next election.
We also worked together to preserve the already strong attributes of our party.
A large and diverse support-base, strong financials, and a talented group of candidates who are ready to take on the Wynne Liberals and form the next government.
While there will always be more work to be done, today I can confidently give our party a clean bill of health.
None of this would have been possible without the work of the people in this room.
While the public and our membership have been captivated by the leadership race, you have kept focused on the task at hand – holding the Wynne Liberals to account.
In particular, I would like to thank our Deputy Leaders, Sylvia Jones and Steve Clark for their steadfast support and wise counsel.
And to Caucus Chair Lisa Thompson, for her work guiding us through this difficult time.
And of course, for the veteran leadership of House Leader Jim Wilson and Whip John Yakabuski.
As I said last week, our Party is turning a new page.
We are bigger than any one individual.
In closing, there is one thing left to ask of all of you in this room, and to our members at home, this weekend, whichever leadership candidate emerges victorious, let us stand united, alongside our new leader.
Let us offer them our time, our energy, and our ideas.
We can and we must win this election.
Not just for the Party.
But for Ontario.