Eastern Ontario MPP Randy Hillier — known for his rural rights advocacy and founder of the Lanark Landowners Association — has thrown his hat into the ring for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership.

“Tough times call for a smart leader, one who knows how to overcome adversity and rise to the challenges, rather than making excuses and pointing fingers,” Hillier said in Toronto yesterday.

The member for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington said the first three policy planks in his platform are: Introducing a freedom of association and conscience act; replacing the Ontario Human Rights Commission and other quasi-tribunals with “real” judges and courts; and allowing Senate elections in Ontario.

Hillier’s leadership competition so far is longtime politician Frank Klees. Other rumoured candidates are MPPs Tim Hudak and Christine Elliott.