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Newmarket-Aurora MPP, health minister Christine Elliott not running for re-election

Party said in late February she planned to run again; 'It's a surprise as well as a disappointment,' local Conservative association official says
20191129 Christine Elliott KA
File photo. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday

Newmarket-Aurora will have a new provincial representative in June after MPP Christine Elliott announced she would not run again.

The minister of health released a statement today, March 4, that she would not seek re-election. She said she would continue as MPP and minister until the election, which will take place by June 2.

Elliott, 66, did not specify in her statement the reason for the decision but said it came after “considerable reflection and discussion with my family.”

“To the people of Newmarket-Aurora and all the volunteers who have supported me, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve and fight for your interests at Queen’s Park,” she said. “I know that my successor will continue to advocate strongly for what matters most to you.”

The move was unexpected by party brass; the federal Newmarket-Aurora Conservative Association had said Feb. 17 that Elliott was running again. Campaign and constituency office manager Dawn Gallagher Murphy said Elliott was acclaimed to run in the riding Sept. 26, 2020.

"It's a surprise as well as a disappointment," provincial riding association board member Matt Buist said of Elliott's decision. "She has been an absolute pleasure to work with and will be sorely missed. We will work hard with whomever replaces her to obtain a continued parliamentary seat for the Conservative Party."

Elliott sought office in 2006, first becoming an MPP that year in a byelection in Whitby-Ajax. She would go on to win three provincial elections in Whitby ridings in 2007, 2011 and 2014, before switching to Newmarket-Aurora in 2018 and winning another.

“I sought elected office in 2006 because of my strong desire to improve the quality of life of individuals with special needs, as well as mental health challenges,” Elliott said.” I saw gaps in care and that motivated me to action. I am so proud to have worked on these issues as the critic for the official opposition, Ontario’s first patient ombudsman and, most recently, as deputy premier and minister of health.”

She also sought provincial party leadership three times, losing out in 2009, 2015 and 2018.

She said the COVID-19 pandemic has tested everyone, particularly frontline health-care workers.

“I want to express my profound admiration of and gratitude for all who provide care to Ontarians each and every day. They do so bravely, selflessly and at great expense to their own personal lives and circumstances,” she said. 

She added appreciation for Premier Doug Ford and her party colleagues. She said she has “no doubt” Ontarians will return them to the government.

Elliott was due to run against Liberal candidate Dr. Sylvain Roy and NDP candidate Denis Heng, an epidemiologist. No other candidates have been named for the riding. 

“I want to thank Christine Elliott for her years of service to the people of Ontario,” Roy said on Twitter.

"Her legacy as minister of health during the COVID-19 pandemic has set the stage for Ontario's recovery and renewal," Heng said on Twitter. "I wish her well as she steps back." 

Elliott thanked her family for their support over her time in office. 

“I am truly thankful for the journey I have taken in public life,” Elliott said. “And am looking forward to what the next chapter will bring.”

Editor's Note, March 4: This article was altered to clarify the titles of Matt Buist.