Kathleen Wynne is Ontarios new premierPublished Posted on | By TZTA News
TORONTO – Ontario has its first woman premier.
Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne was elected leader of the Ontario Liberal party at the leadership convention Saturday night.
The 59-year-old, a front-runner since the campaign to replace Dalton McGuinty began in November, won the contest on the third-ballot of the daylong event at the former Maple Leaf Gardens.
Wynne and Sandra Pupatello, 50, came out on the stage together to hear the results at about 8:30 p.m.
Wynne thanked her son and partner Jane in her victory speech.
“This is a remarkable night,” she said. “This is a remarkable night for all of us. All of you have worked your hearts out.”
She answered critics who complained she will be too Toronto focused.
“I am going to be the premier of the whole province,” Wynne said.
Pupatello was gracious.
“Tonight we made history,” she said. “We had two women on the final ballot.”
The day began with six contestants, but quickly shrunk by mid-afternoon to a showdown between Wynne and former Windsor-area MPP Pupatello.
Wynne received 1,150 votes, compared with 866 for Pupatello.
Wynne right now is premier-designate. She will become premier after a meeting with the outgoing premier and Lieutenant-Governor David Onley. That meeting will likely happen at the first of the week at Queen’s Park, at which time the swearing in of the premier and the new cabinet will be discussed.
Local Liberals who backed Wynne were ecstatic at her victory. It was not a sure thing – Pupatello received 599 votes on the first ballot, compared with 597 for Wynne.
“Our party is embracing someone who wants to be intentional in working with other people and changing the culture at Queen’s Park,” said MPP and Agricultural Minister Ted McMeekin.
“Kathleen’s style is bout being collaborative. Sandra is collaborative too, but Sandra is a little bit more of coming at you, you know.”
The day started out with six candidates, but others quickly dropped out in face of the Wynne and Pupatello juggernauts.
Toronto-area MPP and onetime Dundas resident Eric Hoskins received 153 votes in the first ballot and soon walked over to support Wynne.
He caused a bit of a stir when he looked to be walking over to Pupatello’s camp, but quickly turned and walked into Wynne’s area.
Mississagua-area MPP Harinder Takhar walked across the floor into the Pupatello camp after the time limit expired forhis name to be removed from the second ballot. He received 235 votes on the first ballot.After the second ballot results were announced at about 4:30 p.m.Mississauga-area MPP Charles Sousa crossed the floor into the Wynne camp. Former MPP and cabinet minister Gerard Kennedy soon followed.
Kennedy received 281 votes on the first ballot and 285 on the second ballot.
Wynne had won the delegate count for Hamilton in voting two weeks ago. Many of those delegates pounded. the convention floor to try and bring over delegates from the candidates who were not going to win. Her Hamilton effort was lead by Vito Sgro and Javid Mirza, who will now devote their time to organizing for federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau.
Aidan Johnson, a delegate from Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdalle, called the election of Wynne “a beautiful day” for Ontario because she is open about being a lesbian.
“The Liberals in Ontario have shown it doesn’t matter whether you are gay or straight,” said Johnson, who is gay. “Anyone can be a leader and a great leader.”
Some detractors argued Wynne was unelectable as premier because of being a lesbian.
Johnson noted she was elected by a party that opposed gay rights in the mid-1990s.
“The Ontario Liberal party is showing that Ontario itself has changed,” he said. “If the people of Ontario were not ready for a gay premier, the Liberal party of Ontario would not be electing a gay leader.”
Former Hamilton West MPP July Marsales said she was “excited” by the election of Wynne.
“She brings dedication, organization and passion to the table,” she said. “I know she will do a good job.”
Former Hamilton Mayor Larry Di Ianni, who backed Pupatello, called it “an exciting convention” even though his candidate did not win.
“I wish Kathleen well,” he said. “I hope she does what she says she is going to do and bring people together. It’s a little bit of wishful thinking at this point, but we’ll see. She is certainly a formidable candidate.”
Federal Liberal leader Bob Rae, who opened the convention at the start of the morning, believed Wynne will be “a great premier.” He was Ontario premier from 1990-1995, although as leader of the NDP.
“I look forward to working with her,” said Rae. “We’re delighted to work with Kathleen. She’ll do a fine job.”