Your Weekly OLP Leadership Update: Can Kennedy Restore a Liberal Camelot?

With the membership cut-off fast approaching, it seems likely we’ll have a good idea of the field of candidates to replace Dalton McGuinty within a few days. This week, Laurel Broten, Brad Duguid, and George Smitherman added their names to the list of those taking a pass, prompting a round of “no one wants this job” headlines.

The reality of the situation is far different. It seems almost certain the race will have between 4-6 viable candidates, with a couple more along for the ride. That’s as competitive as any leadership contest in recent memory, and you can be sure the same voices who are screaming “no one wants the job” now will be complaining about crowded debate stages in a month’s time.

There’s still some mystery about who exactly will be standing on that debate stage, but Sandra Pupatello already has endorsements and Kathleene Wynne made it all but official today by quitting Cabinet. Deb Matthews, Glen Murray, and Charles Sousa are rumoured to have assembled campaign teams, so expect at least one or two of them in the race. Even if they’re unlikely to match Pupatello and Wynne in terms of first ballot support, Dalton McGuinty showed everyone in 1996 what can happen at a delegated convention, so don’t count the dark horses out.

The man who McGuinty bested in 1996 may also be considering a bid, as a Draft Kennedy website has sprung to life, inviting supporters to a meeting this Saturday. Kennedy’s candidacy received a jolt of life today, with a new poll showing him as the most electable of eight rumoured candidates. I’ve been skeptical of these hypothetical polls before and I’m not going to change my tune now, but it’s undeniable this will be a boon to Kennedy’s campaign if he does run, just as polls projecting a Justin Trudeau majority have helped Justin sew up the federal leadership race before it begins.

Obviously enough, the Kennedy poll is not nearly as flattering (he’s a less distant third than the other candidates) but, like the Trudeau polls, it does suggest a feeling of nostalgia for Liberal Camelot. As the Education Minister during the early days of the McGuinty government, Kennedy represents the best of the McGuinty legacy, without being tainted by recent disappointments. While he would not have the same level of establishment support as Pupatello or Wynne, Kennedy would be a force to be reckoned with if he does run.




Sandra Pupatello
Kathleen Wynne

Call me Maybe

Deb Matthews
Glen Murray
Gerard Kennedy
Charles Sousa
Eric Hoskins
David Caplan
John Wilkinson
Harinder Takhar

Taking a Pass

Yasir Naqvi
Dwight Duncan
Chris Bentley
Michael Bryant
George Smitherman
Brad Duguid
Laurel Broten
David Orazietti

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics

About CalgaryGrit

A former Calgary Liberal, now living in Toronto. My writings on politics can be found at and online at the National Post.

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3 Responses to Your Weekly OLP Leadership Update: Can Kennedy Restore a Liberal Camelot?

  1. hosertohoosier

    I reject the notion that Kennedy, or his portfolio, represents the best of McGuinty’s term in office.

    Education spending (from Ontario Public Accounts converted into 2003 dollars).

    2003: 12.8 billion
    2012: 19.8 billion
    So education spending is up 54% accounting for inflation (or over 80% not accounting for inflation), an increase that greatly outpaced GDP.

    Simply put, were there positive results from this additional commitment to education (the 2009 PISA scores are the most recent available, but still show the results of 6 years of McGuinty’s reign:

    Math scores
    2003: 530
    2009: 526

    Reading scores
    2003: 530
    2009: 531

    Science scores
    2003: 515
    2009: 531 (however this increase was not deemed statistically significant)

    So in other words, changes in the results for students on international education metrics have been statistically insignificant despite serious investments by the province in education.

    This is what happens when money is simply thrown at a problem, and employed without innovations in the way that we educate students. Even the notion that McGuinty has been able to buy peace with the teacher’s unions has been undermined. What we have seen more recently is spiraling demands from teachers (and their abandonment of the Liberal party).

    Indeed if you look across countries it is pretty clear that education spending is not a magic bullet. Per pupil, the United States spends more than many other countries yet has dismal results. What matters is how you spend money, and the most effective ways are often not the most politically palatable.

    For instance we should pay teachers with serious science or math backgrounds substantially more than others in order to win them over from the private sector. However, in the context of a teacher’s union, dominated by English majors, and a few purveyors of Mickey mouse math, any such effort would be hard to implement.

    • CalgaryGrit

      At the very least, I’d argue the public sees McGuinty’s education track record as his greatest legacy. Hence “the education Premier” monikor.

  2. MississaugaPeter


    No need to pay math/science teachers more and create 2-tier salaries in the schools while increasing costs. There is an incredible number of recently graduated math and science teachers out there who are unemployed.

    The reason for the fairly level results is because boys are stinking out the joint. Not a pretty picture.

    The greatest success story in the McGuinty education revolution is the significant improvement in lower drop out rates and higher graduation rates.

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