Progressive Conservative MPP Frank Klees has denied a report that he’s reconsidering his bid to become Speaker of the Ontario Legislature.
His decision to turn down plum posts in the Tory shadow cabinet to run for the Speaker’s position—potentially giving the Liberals an advantage—sparked controversy at Queen’s Park this week.
On Thursday, the Toronto Star reported that Klees was considering dropping out of the race altogether if he didn’t gather the support of between 40 and 50 MPPs by noon Friday. The Newmarket-Aurora MPP has been under intense pressure to drop out of the race after defying PC Leader Tim Hudak.
Klees, who told The Star he doesn’t want the Speaker’s job in the midst of a firestorm, was Hudak’s main rival during the PC leadership race in 2009. On Thursday he said he’s simply making calls to gauge his support and not considering backing out of the race.
Four of the Liberals’ 53 MPPs are running for the post.
Klees claims to have the support of both Tory and Liberal MPPs. He’s said he’s not looking for support from NDP members because they’ve been instructed to vote against him.
Senior Liberal officials have wondered if this is an exit strategy for the MPP and whether he would leave if he lost the Speaker’s election.
If he won the position of Speaker, it would cause the Tories and the NDP to lose their combined majority of 54 seats.
Klees would not reveal how many people have pledged votes to him, however, he has acknowledged that he does not have any MPPs to second his nomination.
With files from The Canadian Press