10.21.2012 03:35 PM

The next Ontario Premier: the five questions

With a $50,000 entry fee, and a $500,000 spending limit – and, most of all, an end-of-January leadership convention – the Ontario Liberal executive is seeking to discourage minor candidates.  They are also signalling that we need a leader with name recognition; there’s no time, now, for someone to get better-known – particularly with Christmas landing in the middle of this thing.  Smart move, on both counts.

So who should we pick?

Before I offer up my handy five-point guide, gratis, I should observe that – for a lot of us – this leadership stuff is happening really, really fast.  Less than a week ago, we had Dalton McGuinty, the winningest Liberal Premier in a Century.  Less than a week later, he’s said that he’s resigning, and it’s left a lot of Ontario Liberals in shock.  It has been a hard time, a sad time.

Filling his shoes is a tall order, and there should be no doubt about that.  But I believe that, if we’re smart, we can pick a leader who will win the next election, which now seems certain to be in 2013.

In my many conversations with Ontario Liberals, I’ve asked them five questions.  Answered right, the questions all point in the direction of one person, and one person only.

Here they are.

  1. Do you agree that, with the right leader and a lot of hard work, we can win the next provincial election – with a proven winner, someone who has never lost an election?
  2. Okay, you got that right.  But that’s easy.  So who do you think is the leader and the party that represents the greatest threat to Ontario Liberal fortunes?
  3. That’s right, Andrea Horwath’s NDP.  Tim Hudak’s PCs are a rural rump; Hudak is highly unpopular; and his pals, like Rob Ford and Stephen Harper, have hurt him plenty.  So, against Horwath, do we need yet another male leader, or a scrappy, smart woman?
  4. That’s right, we need an agent of change, and a female leader is the literal embodiment of that, in today’s male-dominated politics.  It’s time; it’s the right thing to do.  The amazing Alison Redford showed the country just that, in the most conservative province in the country, too.  So do we not need a scrappy, smart woman who knows how to beat the NDP, and has plenty of experience doing that, in election after election?
  5. Of course we do.  Now, in the past year, we have seen that a lot of voters like the Liberal government’s direction, but not so much the way in which things have been done.  So, the final question:  do we also not need that leader who has been far from the controversies and difficulties of the past year that have – sadly, perhaps unfairly – hurt the fortunes of every member of cabinet?

The answers to those questions are all pretty obvious, when you reflect on them.  And they all suggest that only one person can win this thing, and win big.

Will she do it?  I don’t know.

But if she does, me – and a lot of other folks – will be with her.

(Now, comment away.  I’m interested to see what you folks think, as always.)


  1. Michael S says:

    Yasir Naqvi, because once you have a premier from Ottawa, you can’t stop.

    Young enough for a long haul through purgatory, knows everyone in the party, no cabinet Stik-Um to worry about, knows how to beat Dippers on their own turf.

    • Michael says:

      Had the Liberals lost the last election, Yasir would have been a great choice for all of the reasons you stated.

      But to come in, take over the government and win the next election, I don’t know that he is ready.

  2. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Over in Quebec, one of the four leadership candidates is complaining about the +600K spending limit. Some say he wants to discourage potential financial irregularities. Others say he just can’t raise the money. Take your pick!

  3. Michael S says:

    Because it’s the latter you gotta worry about. To put it gently, I had to Google Tim Hudak’s name as leader of the PCPO, he’s been that invisible lately. Sorry Tim.

  4. Taras Pater says:

    Ummmm, an elitist that can afford the $50,000 entry fee?

  5. bigcitylib says:

    K. Wynne. I know her from back in the C4LD days when she was bald. She knows how to kick ass.

  6. walt says:

    Why does Glen Murray not get mentioned in a list of the usual suspects? Not Ontario enough yet? His orientation? I’d support him in a heartbeat.

  7. CQ says:

    No one is mentioning Sheila Copps? Experienced, was with the Fed. party when surpluses were the rule, accepted by NDP’ers, nothing much but a flag-handout as direct baggage, and is outside of the Toronto (and Montreal federally) Fortress of most Liberal Leaders and challengers. She’s also proven as a gutsy Opposition member and someone who re-ran upon the GST.

  8. J.W. (WB) says:

    Sheila Copps?? That’s like Bob Rae for fed leader. Good people But the party has to look AHEAD, not back.

  9. Vincent says:

    Not Sheila Copps. Or Martha Hall Findlay.

    Warren, give us another clue!

  10. Michael says:

    Sandra Pupatello. Would make a great candidate and a great Premier. Hope she runs.

  11. Good list of questions that point in a particular direction. In any case, big shoes to fill.

  12. John Matheson says:

    Wynne is very sharp as I seem to recall in conversation. She also has a knack for making dummies like me understand very complex issues.

  13. Dan says:

    Those are five good questions. I wouldn’t be so cynical as to say that an agent of change means any woman will do. Besides the fact that there’s room for politicians who are ethnic minorities or openly gay, it’s far more important that the person is an outsider. The right man would do. If you come up with an answer to question 5, then you don’t need to answer question 4.

  14. MississaugaPeter says:



    6. Never tweeted on June 8, 2012: “Paul Martin, still the best!”

    Ha! Ha!

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      Almost missed my flight out of the worst airport in the world looking for that. But got to the gate and another 40+ minute delay due to “Air Traffic Delay”. O’Hare.

      Let’s skip no. 1 and you can skip no. 6.

      Kathleen vs. Sandra vs. Gerard (second last ballot)

  15. james Smith says:

    I like where you are going with this, & K. Wynn would be a good choice. I’ve supported & been a delegate for women candidates for both Federal & Provincial Leader (Copps McLeod, & Hall-Findlay ) I have also worked to get women MP’s, MPP’s & city councillors elected. That being said I think a respected voice from OUTSIDE might be a better choice, I think John Manley has the winning CV, the smarts and is a pretty good campaigner. Being an outsider may be a handicap, as would being rusty & a perception of being more right of centre. But I think if he tells his life story he can connect with people.

  16. Del says:

    IF John Wilkinson had not lost his seat, I thnk he would have been strong candidate with the support of the McGuinty-Sorbara crew..however your questions lead
    me to only one location .. Windsor..and not for Dwight but rather the return of Sandra Stilleto’s..hmmm seems a solid option..

  17. Shawn says:

    David Bertschi for OLP leader!!! He has a provincial profile, is an outsider and already has a solid team in place.

  18. Avery Hudson says:

    I assume you are talking about Sandra Pupatello – and I agree wholeheartedly.

  19. Gpeter says:

    Maybe she’ll win, Warren, maybe not.

    But the truth is of the people who’s name has been mentioned thus far she’s the only one I’d support, myself. Assuming we’re thinking about the same person; but my assumption is based on the fact that your mentioned criteria severely limit who you could be talking about.

  20. Betty N says:

    I think he is talking about Sandra Pupatello.

  21. Mom says:

    Kathleen please.

  22. Francesco says:

    With hudak’s fav. ratings in the tank and as he already defined in the public’s eye. Our real threat is from “say anything Horwath” thus we need someone who is a proven winner…only one person comes to mind..Sandra P.

  23. Mom says:

    If Sandra wants in the race, shouldn’t she at least be on Facebook?

  24. Tim Sullivan says:

    I don’t think too many people are particularly sad, WK. Nine years is a good stint, he’s done his time. He’s served us well. But sad? Not that I’ve seen.

  25. Susan MacIsaac says:

    Its Kathleen Wynne. I have worked on some of her campaigns. She has never lost, beat John Tory in our riding by more than a few thousand votes. She has a very strong on-the-ground ‘get the vote out’ machine. She is smart, passionate and dedicated. Big threat to Andrea Horvath in my opinion and has always stayed out of trouble.

    She meets your criteria Warren.

  26. Bloody Bounder says:

    I believe Warren to referring here to Sandra Pupatello. He is quite right
    that she has never lost an election, as she was successfully first elected
    in 1995 and re-elected in 1999, 2003 and 2007. Warren is also correct
    that Sandra Pupatello is not associated with the current McGunity cabinet
    as she did not contest the recent 2011 Ontario provincial election. He is
    also correct that she would be both a “scrappy, smart woman” and an
    “agent of change”.

    I have always admired Ms Pupatello and I regard her as being on the
    left-wing of the Ontario Liberal Party. As a lifelong Liberal voter both
    provincially and federally, I have known many tradition social-liberals
    in the tradition of Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Jean Chrétien,
    David Peterson, Lyn McLeod, Gerard Kennedy and Sheila Copps
    who have begun to defect en mass to the NDP, as our beloved
    OLP and LPC, which not that long ago were ideologically centre to
    centre-left, have been hijacked by neo-liberal Bay Street corporate
    liberals such as Paul Martin, Michael Ignatieff, Stephan Dion,
    George Smitherman and Dalton McGunity (sorry Warren but while
    Dalton he has helped the OLP win, he is more Mike Harris-lite than a
    Trudeau liberal). I personally predict that social-liberals will move
    even more en mass over to the NDP if both the OLP and LPC
    continue to support corporate tax cuts, mean minded austerity
    measures against the poor, privatization, deregulation, outsourcing
    and off shoring. We DO NOT need two Conservative parties at
    Queen’s Park or on Parliament Hill.

    I am personally finding it harder and harder to vote for the OLP
    especially in light of what the McGunity Liberals are planning to
    do to the invaluable Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit
    (CSUMB). In January 2013, as part of its austerity budget,
    the Ontario provincial government will cut 50% of funding to
    the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB).

    The CSUMB has been available to Ontario Works (OW) and
    Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) recipients who are
    facing difficult crisis situations. This benefit has been used to:
    secure housing by people leaving shelters or hospitals; to pay
    rent arrears in order to avoid eviction; to pay utility arrears in
    order to avoid having your water or heat cut off during the
    freezing winter months; and purchasing basic household items
    such as a bed or mattress. Currently, some 16,000 people a
    month across Ontario rely on this vital benefit.

    For frontline workers in the Violence Against Women (VAW) sector,
    the CSUMB has proved decisive in enabling women and their children
    to flee domestic violence situations and secure safe housing.
    Without access to this benefit, countless immigrants and refugees—
    many fleeing war, trauma and economically precarious conditions—
    would not be able to afford housing in Ontario upon arrival. For those
    individuals accessing drop-ins and shelters and struggling with extreme
    poverty, substandard housing and homelessness, mental and physical
    health disabilities, and addictions, the slashing of the CSUMB will certainly
    result in increased marginalization, homelessness, misery and hardship.

    The provincial government’s slashing of the CSUMB, along with other recent
    measures like the cut to the Special Diet Allowance, is contributing to increased
    poverty and inequality in our communities, especially for social assistance recipients.

    I do hope someone like Ms Pupatello can take the OLP back to the centre to centre-left.
    I am personally getting sick and tired of McGunity’s centre-right neo-liberal brand.

  27. Ryan says:

    Of all the possible candidates mentioned in the last week, Sandra Pupatello would put the most fear in both Hudak and Horwath. In my mind, that’s why she has to be the first choice.

  28. Michael S says:

    Sandra Pupatello has the advantage of being out of the loop of the power plant cancellation ugly. She’s got clean hands.

  29. Matt P says:

    As much as I admire Kathleen Wynne, I can see the built-in tactical advantages of Sandra Pupatello. Hopefully, this won’t get too messy. That being said, my preference for the next election was Dalton McGuinty.

  30. John Matheson says:

    Whichever way, the OLP does not need a coronation. A race with some good candidates will sharpen up the winner’s game for the general election. I hope a few of them run.

  31. Chris Ralph says:


    Just let me check my binder full of women here…

    But seriously… BELINDA STRONACH!

    She would be great!

  32. Mulletaur says:

    Wow, a John Turner rerun. Never would have guessed. Saw that movie, ends badly.

  33. reformatory says:

    Too funny…. the binder statement that is…. as for Belinda. It could work. I kinda think Sandra Pupatello at first because she is well entrenched in Ontario politics, and I believe a fantastic choice. Belinda might be too much of an outsider. But, it is an interesting thought.

  34. Geoff says:

    Bang-on Warren.

  35. Don McGowan says:

    Did Sandra leave government before or after the cancellation of the Oakville Power Plant? If she remained a member through to the September 2011 election, she would have been in Cabinet at the time the Oakville project was cancelled (prior to the 2010 Municipal Election). Additionally, she was in Cabinet and representing a south western Ontario riding during the time that a great many Wind mills and Solar farms were brought on-line in that region of Ontario (and other regions). Renewable Energy is something that I personally support, but it definitely cost the Liberal’s seats in Rural Ontario. Ornge, E-health, $14BB defiicits were all percolating along while Sandra was in Cabinet. As much as I admire and respect Sandra’s contribution to public life, she isn’t sufficiently distanced from issues that Current Cabinet Members face should they step forward to seek the leadership. Ideally, we need someone that isn’t remotely tainted by these issues. Someone who moved from the Provincial scene to the Federal scene in 2006? Gender shouldn’t be a criteria. Perspective should be applied when judging their ability to win elections (were they victims of the Orange Crush and a concerted effort by the Conservatives to win the GTA?). Five questions simply don’t allow as full discussion of who should be considering a run for the leadership.

    • Warren says:

      It’s my web site, and I get to ask the questions any way I like. If you disapprove, feel free to start your own web site. You apparently have lots to say.

  36. steve says:

    My two cents, I heard Kytheen Wynne speak and she seems to have some royal jelly.

  37. I_luvto2 says:

    I think the only Cabinet minister that actually deserves becoming Premier is Kathleen Wynne. Pupatello is needed in the HoC.

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