TORONTO - Randy Hillier says if he's elected leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservatives, he'd reinstate the spring bear hunt.

The eastern Ontario politician says doing so would inject millions of dollars into the struggling economies of rural and northern Ontario.

Some hunting and tourism groups have also called for reinstatement of the hunt, which was cancelled in 1999 to keep the bear population in check.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the legislature has admonished Hillier for using the Queen's Park media studio to launch his leadership campaign.

A letter obtained by The Canadian Press shows Hillier had been told not to do so because it violated the rules for the use of government buildings.

Hillier, who is perhaps best known as former president of the Lanark Landopwners Association, is no stranger to controversy. He once sent a picture of a dead deer to Liberal cabinet minister Leona Dombrowsky with her name written on the photo.

One of Hillier's leadership rivals, Tim Hudak, will officially launch his campaign today while Christine Elliott launches hers on Friday. Frank Klees entered the race earlier.

A successor to John Tory, who resigned last month after he lost a March 5 byelection, will be announced on June 27 at a party convention in Markham.