Kathleen Wynne

OLP News Roundup

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | Leave a comment

Bits and pieces of news from the Ontario Liberal Party leadership race, in advance of tonight’s debate in Ottawa.

The Policy Candidate: Glen Murray has released the most detailled policy proposals and routinely peppers his speeches with more facts and figures than you’ll see in a fourth year economics class. For you wonks, be sure to check out his plans for tax reform, party renewal, and Northern Ontario.



The Blog-Friendly Candidate: I got tied up and wasn’t able to make the call, but props to Kathleen Wynne for fielding questions from bloggers last night. Scott Tribe offers a recap here.



The Punnable Candidate: No doubt capitalizing on Marc Garneau’s out-of-this-world pun express, Eric Hoskins has released the following:



The Establishment Candidate: Sandra Pupatello leads the way in the endorsement race, with 17 MPPs backing her. While Alison Redford and Christy Clark didn’t need any caucus support to win their leadership races, this is good news for Pupatello since one ex-officio is worth about 25 “regular” Liberals under the delegated convention format.



The Electable Candidate: If it comes down to winning (and it usually does for Liberals), Gerard Kennedy has a fairly good case to make. A series of Forum polls show he’s the top choice of Ontarians, would fare the best of all candidates in an election, and is seen as the candidate who is most trustworthy and most caring, with the best plan for the economy. Yesterday, Abacus Data released a poll of their own showing Kennedy well ahead of the field when it comes to being the most known and the most liked candidate.

Now, I’ve said before that no party should be picking its leader based on hypothetical polls. Once voters get better acquainted with the candidates, their impressions invariably change. But with an election likely in early 2013, it certainly makes life a lot easier for the OLP if they’re selling a product voters already know and like. Otherwise, you’re competing with the NDP and PCs to frame the new leader, and there’s no guarantee the Liberal story is the one voters will latch onto.

The Air War Begins

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | 9 Comments

The Ontario Liberal Party’s leadership race has been largely fought on the ground until now. With such a tight timeline, the campaigns were forced to focus almost exclusively on signing up new members until November 23rd. There have been polls, endorsements, and a few policies rushed out the door, but most of the race has taken place outside of the public eye. Heck, Harinder Takhar didn’t even declare until after the membership deadline.

With that deadline passed, today’s debate in Ingersoll gave the candidates their first real opportunity to make their pitch to undecided Liberals and potential delegates. Or, at the very least, an opportunity to make their pitch to the media. There were more protestors than Liberals watching the debate live, and if Twitter is any indication, most who tuned in online had already made up their minds. So today was very much about the candidates defining themselves and trying to drive the narrative until the delegate selection meetings in early January – when the media’s attention will no doubt turn to delegate counts and convention deal making.

Since so few undecided voters were watching, it’s hard to name “winners” and “losers”. In my view, Wynne, Kennedy, and Pupatello were the strongest speakers and the most comfortable on stage, but they were also the three candidates who put the fewest concrete policies out there. I’m too close to this to objectively judge what impact, if any, today’s debate will have on the leadership race but, to the best of my ability, the following appear to be the narrative each candidate was trying to advance.


Kathleen Wynne said “Liberal values” four times in her opening statement and kept a positive tone throughout the debate, which makes a lot of sense given she’s likely the frontrunner at this point. She raised a few eyebrows with her promise to name herself Agriculture Minister – I don’t personally think the Premier should be the Agriculture Minister, but it’s a symbolic gesture to rural Ontario that is sure to make its way into most debate recaps.


Gerard Kennedy set out to speak the “tough truths“, focusing on the very real challenges the party is facing and framing himself as the candidate best able to offer voters a “fresh” start. He was candid that the OLP has been sidetracked, that many voters in rural Ontario feel they’ve been overlooked, and that the OLP needs to earn back Ontarians’ respect. In this vein, he was the only candidate to reference the Drummond Report, or to acknowledge that there are very real choices facing the government.


From his opening statement, Glen Murray declared the party needed “workable ideas, not just big words and big Liberal values“. He then spent the debate tossing out ideas, facts, and figures at every opportunity. He clearly tried to stake out his ground as the “ideas candidate” and, in the eyes of some, succeeded.


Many pundits have said that Sandra Pupatello came across as too “angry”, but I think she succeeded in portraying herself as a “tough” fighter, ready to take on the NDP and PCs. In the end, delegates are likely to side with the candidate they feel has the best chance of winning the next election, and while I don’t personally think Sandra is that candidate, it’s been smart of her to consistently push the narrative that she is.


Charles Sousa & Harinder Takhar were both a bit stiff out of the gate, but warmed up as the debate went on (Sousa especially). Both focused heavily on fiscal issues, promoting their real world business experience, and tossing out a slew of ideas to boost the economy and help “job creators”.


Eric Hoskins positioned himself off as a political outsider, touting his real world experiences as a medical doctor and humanitarian. He came across as very likable, but I’m not sure he managed to stand out from the crowd as much as he would have liked.

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

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | 3 Comments

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.


Declared

None


Likely

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

OLP Leadership Update

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | 3 Comments

While Federal Liberal leadership aspirants are free to subject their candidacy to a year-long striptease before declaring, Ontario Liberals do not have the luxury of time. With the membership cut-off in just four weeks, there’s little time to play coy.

Yasir Naqvi mulled it over for a few days before deciding to bide his time for a future bid. This week, Dwight Duncan and Chris Bentley both announced they would not be candidates for the leadership – or the next election. Both decisions are understandable given the amount of time these men have spent in politics, and the baggage they would carry into a leadership race.

On the other side, Sandra Pupatello has all but confirmed she will run, and all signs point to her being the frontrunner.


Declared

None


Likely

Sandra Pupatello


Call me Maybe

Kathleen Wynne
Michael Bryant
George Smitherman
Gerard Kennedy
Charles Sousa
Eric Hoskins
Glen Murray
Deb Matthews
David Caplan
Brad Duguid
John Wilkinson
David Orazietti


Taking a Pass

Yasir Naqvi
Dwight Duncan
Chris Bentley

After 16 Years of McGuinty, What’s Next for OLP?

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2013 OLP Leadership Race, Ontario Politics | 9 Comments

Sixteen years ago, Dalton McGuinty won the Ontario Liberal leadership race at 4:30 am, after 5 rounds of voting. Always one to defy expectations, McGuinty worked his way up from 4th place over the course of 9 hours in what was truly one of the wildest leadership conventions in Canadian history.

Although it’s almost impossible to read a leadership race’s ultrasound just a few days after conception,the early snapshot points to another unpredictable contest.

While many high profile names have shied away from the federal Liberal race, the OLP offers a more attractive prize and a higher probability of success. Would you rather spend 6 months getting steamrolled by Justin Trudeau for the opportunity to lead the third place party in the House of Commons or take a chance in a short race for the Premier’s chair where anything can happen? It’s an easy choice.

The end result will likely be a crowded field, with several legitimate contenders. Given this, uncertainty over the rules, and the ability of long-shots to win at a delegated convention, the conditions are ripe for another early morning surprise.

Frontrunners – Past, Present, and Future

A year ago, Chris Bentley would have been the odds-on favourite to succeed McGuinty. Smart, well-spoken, competent – he has been a rising star since entering politics in 2003. The past few weeks have not been kind to Bentley, as the Oakville Power Plant fiasco has sent his stock into a Felix Bumgarner-esque free fall. The Power Plant cancellation wasn’t his fault, but you don’t want to kick off your leadership campaign with the word “embattled” in front of your name every time you see it in print. Still, Bentley might run, if only to have an excuse to give up the Energy portfolio.

That leaves Dwight Duncan as the de facto “frontrunner” – he is, after all, the highest profile minister in the government and the most experience prospective candidate. He’s been in politics his entire life, so it should not be at all surprising that he is considering a run. Duncan’s biggest problem is that he’s already been branded as the “status quo” candidate, at a time when most Liberals recognize the status quo won’t work. McGuinty’s resignation e-mail to party members was titled “Renewal“, and replacing Dalton with Dalton 2.0 doesn’t scream renewal.

So if you’re looking for who will be the favourite once the contest kicks off in earnest a month from now, I’d put my money on Kathleen Wynne or Sandra Pupatello. Although she didn’t run last year and her husband is eying the Newfoundland Liberal leadership, Pupatello is considering a run. And based on her comments that she’s “uncomfortable” with prorogation, I can only assume Wynne is too. Both are talented politicians and may be seen as the best bet to woo back disaffected Liberals who have wandered over to the NDP tent.

Old Friends

A few years ago, any list of potential McGuinty successors would have started with Michael Bryant and George Smitherman. Both are extremely talented politicians, weighted down by extremely heavy baggage. Still, Smitherman has kept the door open, and many read Bryant’s tell-all autobiography as the first chapter in his political comeback.

Another alumni of the first McGuinty Government is Gerard Kennedy. While he’s been away from the provincial game for 6 years, that could play in his favour, as the party tries to distance itself from recent controversies. Kennedy offers the Liberals their best opportunity to reboot their relationship with teachers and the education brand, potentially winning back votes from the NDP. It’s been pointed out that much of his organization is now with Team Trudeau, but most candidates will be building their teams from scratch and Kennedy at least has a following. Remember, this is a candidate who led for most of the night in 1996 and was neck-and-neck across Ontario with Michael Ignatieff in 2006.

New Blood

If you were drawing a police sketch of the “ideal” candidate, most Liberals would describe someone younger, with a bit of charisma, a bit of experience…but still somewhat of a fresh face. Laurel Broten is likely the closest fit to that wish list. As Minister of Education her profile has been raised, but that has also thrust her head on into the teacher’s labour dispute. Charles Sousa also deserves consideration, as he has proven himself to be a competent and likable Minister.

Another pair of fresher candidates getting a lot of buzz are Eric Hoskins and Glen Murray, who both entered the legislature via by-elections during McGuinty’s second term. Murray’s experience as Mayor of Winnipeg gives him added credibility if he can dodge the “Just Visiting” attacks, while Hoskins’ reputation as an international humanitarian might be the genuine face an older government under attack on the ethics file needs.

Party President Yasir Naqvi has recused himself from decisions related to the leadership campaign, as he considers a run. Naqvi has long been a rising star in the OLP, has a compelling personal story to tell, is well-liked by Liberals, and has the connections needed to quickly assemble a leadership team. I don’t doubt that Naqvi will one day run for leader – but he’s still under 40, so there’s no rush.

Anyone Else?

David Caplan and Deb Matthews have the profile, but much of that profile came because of controversies during their respective stints as Minister of Health. Brad Duguid has few flaws and has performed well in difficult portfolios, but there’s no obvious narrative for him to sell to Liberals or voters. Ditto for John Wilkinson, who lost his seat last fall.

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