• She’s focused on the economy: Pupatello was a Liberal MPP for 16 years, and was in several Cabinet posts during that time, including economic development. She left politics to become director of business development and global markets for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. She is an expert on job creation from both sides, and that’s what Ontario needs.
• She’ll reclaim the political middle ground for the party. We’re living in divisive times, with a frighteningly high public debt and an economy that won’t rally. Times like this tend to polarize people, and draw them to the hard edge of the left and right wings of political thinking. But we need a strong voice for the middle ground. Pupatello is seen as coming from the right wing of the party, perhaps because of her corporate experience. She can draw the Liberals back to that unoccupied centrist territory.
• She’s smart, tough and together. I was education reporter for this paper, off and on, for 18 years and have seen a few education ministers pass through. Not one of them impressed like Pupatello. Her grasp of the issues was formidable, her passion for the topic was clear and her willingness to hold local boards accountable for continued student improvement was refreshing.
• Most of all, she is the person least associated with McGuinty. The Premier has been a lightning rod for the anger of Ontarians who are fed up with his policies. Anyone who was a member of his cabinet will be tainted by association, no matter how wonderful an individual he or she might be.
But Pupatello has been an outsider, and that’s all to her benefit. “He and I are very different,” she said recently about McGuinty. “We are different personalities, we look at things differently.”
If the Liberals elect her as leader, Pupatello will provide a fresh approach and a chance to claim the political middle ground. She’s the blood transfusion they desperately need.