Ontario Premier Doug Ford called Bonnie Crombie’s Liberal leadership run a “slap in the face” to the residents of Mississauga.

“My first reaction is what took you so long?” Ford said Wednesday while at an unrelated news conference in London Wednesday morning. “She’s been campaigning for five years.”

Crombie officially announced Monday that she has formed an exploratory committee to look into running in the Ontario Liberal Party leadership race. It’s the next logical step for the politician, who in early May could be seen rubbing elbows with high-profile politicians and strategists at the Liberal National Convention in Ottawa.

The Mississauga mayor spoke with the media on Tuesday, calling herself a centrist who would focus her leadership run on “addressing what’s broken” in Ontario.

“Our health-care system is broken. Our education system, our educators are broken. The download into municipalities of course, that's something I face day-to-day as the mayor of the third largest city in Ontario, it has to stop,” she said on Tuesday.

She also said she would not leave her position as mayor as she prepares for the leadership bid, adding that she would campaign on weeknights and weekends.

Ford took issue with this decision, saying “You can’t put your butt on both sides of the fence.”

“We're making the largest change in the history of Mississauga and Peel, and this is all about Bonnie Crombie’s political agenda,” he told reporters. “In my opinion, it's a real slap in the face to the to the residents there.”

“I think the best thing to do, she runs against me and we get to a new mayor of Mississauga. That's my opinion.”

Last week the Doug Ford government announced the dissolving of Peel Region, effectively making Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon single-tier cities in the next two years.

This was something Crombie campaigned on in October 2022 and has long supported, along with her predecessor Hazel McCallion.

However, if Crombie wins and becomes the next Ontario Liberal Party leader—or chooses to resign from her position during the race—she would be leaving her city to transition to a new style of governance under the helm of a new mayor.

Crombie has not held back from criticizing the Progressive Conservative government’s decisions in the past.

In the past few months she has spoken out against the use of a ministerial zoning order that would allow thousands of units to be developed in the city as well as the lack of funding being provided to municipalities to offset housing changes made by the PCs.

"Let me be clear to Premier Ford - my record as Mayor speaks for itself," Crombie said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Day after day, I put the people of Mississauga first. I work to manage our City's finances responsibly while driving the growth of our economy and build housing so all residents benefit."