TORONTO (Reuters) - The main opposition party of Canada's most populous province, Ontario, elected a new leader on Saturday just three months before provincial elections, ending turmoil in the party following the sudden resignation of the previous chief.
The center-right Progressive Conservatives, which have been leading in polls to unseat the ruling Liberals, elected Doug Ford after a chaotic day of vote counting which saw the result delayed by several hours.
Fifty-three year old Ford is the brother of late Rob Ford, the former mayor of Toronto who gained global notoriety for admitting to smoking crack cocaine while in office.
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The party was thrown into chaos in January after party leader Patrick Brown resigned following accusations of sexual misconduct. Brown has denied the allegations.
Ford, a former Toronto city councillor, will have to unify the party and spearhead a campaign to oust Ontario's 14-year-old Liberal government, led by Premier Kathleen Wynne.
"Tonight we took the first step in defeating Kathleen Wynne," Ford told reporters. "To the people of Ontario, I say relief is on its way."
The run-up to Saturday's election was marred by several hiccups, including troubles with voter registration and a failed last-minute attempt by Brown to re-enter the leadership race.
"We have a lot of work to do... in a very short amount of time," Ford said after winning the four-cornered contest. Ford defeated his nearest rival Christine Elliott, who lost the 2015 party chief race to Brown.
(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny and Denny Thomas; Editing by Daniel Wallis & Shri Navaratnam)