Here’s Radwanski in the Globe:
“Either Sandra Pupatello exceeded her own expectations, or she did a good job of lowering everyone else’s.
The Ontario Liberal leadership candidate who came into the weekend saying she would be happy to place second in preliminary voting instead emerged with the lead, claiming 27 per cent of the more than 1,800 delegates elected to attend their party’s convention later this month. That puts her two percentage points above Kathleen Wynne, who conversely raised expectations last week by enticing erstwhile candidate Glen Murray to drop out of the race and endorse her.
The effect, particularly given her strong support among the 400-plus party elites who will automatically be granted delegate status, is to establish Ms. Pupatello as the frontrunner in the race to replace Premier Dalton McGuinty. How much that means depends largely on the judgment of a clump of candidates, running well behind her and Ms. Wynne, who seem destined to be also-rans.
Gerard Kennedy, in third with 14 per cent of delegates, probably does not have the broad appeal that could make him a real contender on the convention floor. The same is even more true of Harinder Takhar, despite a head-turning performance this weekend which left him narrowly trailing Mr. Kennedy with 13 per cent. Meanwhile, disappointing returns have made the prospects extremely dim for Charles Sousa (11 per cent) and non-existent for Eric Hoskins (6 per cent).”
What really happened? Well, nothing’s official, as there is still some counting and re-counting to do. But, bottom line, Pupatello won, and she won big.
She had said at the start of the race that, once the delegates were selected, she expected no more than to be in the middle of the pack. She was telling the truth. That’s what she, and we, expected. None of us expected her to be at the front of the pack after the so-called LEMs.
Something happened, however. Lots of Ontario Liberals are speculating what that might be. Personally, I think it’s this:
The Curse of Toronto.
Being from Calgary – and having lived in B.C. and Quebec – I can personally testify to the fact that the rest of the country loves to hate Toronto. That may be mean, that be unfair, but they mostly do.
But so, too, does the rest of Ontario. I’ve lived in Ottawa and Kingston, and the only parcel of land I own on this Earth is a rocky patch in rural Ontario. It has no cell phone coverage, no wireless, no garbage pickup, no nothing. Thus, you’re forced to talk to your neighbours. And, to a one, they all say that Toronto is a nice place to visit. But they’d hate to live here. And, if you get a couple beers in them, they’ll say they hate Toronto. Too crowded, too busy, too noisy, too dangerous, they say. (They’re wrong, but that’s what they think.)
Until last night, the OLP leadership frontrunner was Kathleen Wynne. She is a thoughtful, smart, decent person. She’s terrific.
But she is also from deepest Toronto, and – clearly, to many OLP members – she embodies Toronto. Now, that really shouldn’t matter, but it does. Every card-carrying Grit is aware of the fact that, in all of Ontario’s history, there has really been only one Premier from downtown Toronto.
That’s not a fluke; there’s a reason for it. In the rest of the province – and in the rest of the country, since the beginning of time – folks have had quite enough of downtown Toronto telling them how to live their lives. They want someone to be their representative in Toronto, not someone who simply represents Toronto to them.
I’ve been wrong many times before, but I think that’s what happened this weekend. What’s your take?
(Oh, and congrats, Pupatello!)