The Ontario Liberal leadership race is already more interesting than the federal one. Former cabinet minister and Windsor, Ont. MPP, Sandra Pupatello, formally launched her bid for the Ontario Liberal leadership today.
Premier Dalton McGuinty set off the race on Oct. 15 when he announced his retirement and prorogued the legislature. He has pledged to remain in office until a new leader is chosen. The rule is that candidates have to resign cabinet positions, if any, before entering the race.
Ms. Pupatello joins Toronto MPPs Kathleen Wynne and Glen Murray, who resigned from cabinet and have officially declared their candidacies. Other candidates have until Nov. 23 to launch bids that, if successful, will win them the premiership of the province.
I’ve also read reports that Citizenship and Immigration Minister Charles Sousa is expected to announce that he’ll run, and apparently intends to do so when he makes an “important announcement” at Mississauga on Saturday.
The London Free Press reported yesterday that local MPP, Health Minister Deb Matthews, will not run. And earlier we heard that Energy Minister Chris Bentley, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, Education Minister Laurel Broten and Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid will sit this one out.
The Grits will choose McGuinty’s successor the weekend of Jan. 25, 2013, in Toronto. So, less than a month since the premier’s decision to resign, we have three cabinet ministers and one former minister about to face off in what should be a spirited game of pick-me!
Notwithstanding the fact that I’m a PC supporter and so have no chance to vote for the new premier, I do have skin in this game (or race or whatever). After all, the next premier will have the power to make policies and enact laws that could potentially have an impact on my wellbeing. Moreover, as a resident of Ontario, I don’t want to see some dolt leading the government.
At this point, I like the plain-speaking Sandra Pupatello for the job, and I’m guessing she’s entering the race as the favourite. Should she win, she would, of course, make history as Ontario’s first female premier. I am somewhat perplexed, however, that Ms. Pupatello decided not to run for re-election last year, saying it was time for a change. Yet here she is competing for more of the same. Let’s hope this is not more of the usual Liberal duplicity or mendacity we’ve come to expect from this edition of the Ontario Grits.
Since Ms. Pupatello did not run in the last general election, she can probably distance herself from the recent gas plant scandal. That all seems to stem from an election campaign decision. I don’t see how any of the other former cabinet members can escape fallout from that wrong-headed and expensive decision, however.
The next premier will be facing something of a mess and will be expected to head a government in disarray and currently holding the opposition at bay with the controversial use of prorogation. It’ll take political skill and sound judgement to avoid being the shortest serving premier in the province’s history.