PC leadership candidate Doug Ford says he’s voiced “concerns” about having only two more weeks to sign up new party members and the security and privacy of the party’s online leadership vote, scheduled to begin a month from Friday.

“I’d just like a little extra time to sign up more people,” Ford said in a live interview on CP24 Friday afternoon. “I can sign up more people than they can, that’s what they’re worried, I have a larger base than they do,” he said, referring to party officials and leadership rivals.

Ford and other contestants have until Feb. 16 to sign up new members who will be eligible to vote online for the party’s new leader.

Voting will open on March 2 and continue until March 8.

The race is extremely short in order to allow the party to have a leader in place for at least 60 days before the start of Ontario’s general election in May. The race was prompted by the sudden resignation of Patrick Brown after two women accused him of sexual misconduct in a report by CTV News. Brown has thoroughly denied these allegations.

After talking to “a lot of I.T. people,” Ford said he has reservations about holding the vote online.

“Someone is going to see who you voted for, that’s concerning. Call me old fashioned but I like when you go into the voter’s box and check someone’s name off. Plus with everyone getting hacked now, it’s concerning.”

He said he had spoken to party president Jag Badwal about holding a “mail-in vote or something where there’s a little more security.”

Responding to Ford’s criticism, Hartley Lefton, the head of the PC Party’s rules committee, told CP24 there would be no changes to the process.

“The deadline to join was driven by our obligation to review new membership applications to ensure that there would not be duplicate entries on the list, and to give every member the opportunity to receive voting instructions in time to vote,” Lefton said in an email.

Speaking about online voting, he said the party’s executive selected that method and is confident in its security, calling it “the most open voting process in our party’s history.”

He said the party plans to have “a verifiable and auditable trail that will give PC Party members and all Ontarians the confidence that the new leader to be announced March 10 will reflect the demonstrated will of our members.”

Shot across the bow

Turning to his three possible opponents — Christine Elliott, Caroline Mulroney and Rod Phillips — Ford had love for one, jabs for the other and not really much to say about the third.

Elliott confirmed her bid for the race on Twitter on Thursday. Campaign sources confirmed to CP24 on Thursday that Mulroney and Phillips intend to run as well.

He said he had backed former MPP Elliott twice before in her bids for the party’s leadership and said he has “a lot of respect” for her.

“We’re always going to be friends no matter what happens.”

But for Mulroney, nominated PC candidate for York-Simcoe, he was decidedly less positive.

“I’m sure she’s a nice person – I don’t know Caroline. She lived in the U.S. for 25 years or so. I don’t know her, I’ve never seen her at any party events, but she seems to be a nice person.”

Ford himself lived in Chicago for a number of years, managing a U.S. division of his family’s business.

On former Postmedia executive Rod Phillips, Ford had little to say.

“I think I’ve said hello to him once and I think he’s a smart guy.”