The gays are joining forces.
Just as quickly as he announced his exit from the race, Glen Murray has joined Kathleen Wynne's campaign for Dalton McGuinty's provincial throne.
In an announcement Jan 10, Murray, former Winnipeg mayor and Toronto Centre MPP, dropped out of the Liberal leadership race and endorsed fellow gay candidate Wynne. The move narrows the playing field to six and is a big push for Wynne, who will welcome reps from Murray's camp.
"I simply believe she is the best person to serve as premier of Ontario," said Murray at the press conference Jan 10.
"While I'm proud of my team and the efforts we've made, it's very clear to me that Kathleen Wynne embodies much of the ideas, compatible values, and an incredible capacity to bring people together and to lead."
Murray had a strong showing in the candidate debates—including the final verbal joust Jan 9—but was said by some to lack the support needed of potential delegates, and placed low on public polls. Murray even hinted at some financial snags at the final debate.
"I don't have a lot of money. I've tapped out every friend I have. I can barely buy another pamphlet," he said in a candid moment perhaps foreshadowing the next morning's announcement.
Neither Murray or Wynne took a strong position on contentious issues for the gay community. De-funding of Catholic schools was a particular topic both candidates have been timid to touch. But the two share a desire to "renew" the Liberal party, Murray said.
Cheerfully at Murray's side as he made the announcement, Wynne thanked Murray for his support.
"I know this is a very hard moment for you, because you've put your heart and soul into this," she said. "I'm very grateful that you're coming and we're going to be able to work together."
Wynne promises Murray a "senior role" in her cabinet if she is able to clinch the premier spot come April when McGuinty's successor is announced. Wynne would make history as the country's first openly gay premier and the province's first female premier.
Former minister John Wilkinson will join Wynne's team as co-chair, she announced, a move perceived as an attempt to help mend her campaign's alleged urban-rural divide. Wilkinson represented the rural riding of Perth-Wellington.
Murray's exit and support for Wynne is considered by some as a blow to candidate Sandra Pupatello, former Windsor West MPP and a front-runner in the race. It is an announcement made at a pivotal moment as Liberals are set to vote this weekend on delegates for the Jan 25-27 convention at Maple Leaf Gardens, where McGuinty's replacement will be announced.
"I've always said that you have to pause in life sometimes to never put your own political career ahead of ideas and public service," Murray said of his move. "We have to remember that there is a certain amount of humility that goes with public service.
Other candidates still in the game are former Parkdale-High Park MP and MPP Gerard Kennedy, and MPPs Charles Sousa (Mississauga South), Eric Hoskins (St. Paul's), Harinder Takhar (Mississauga-Erindale).
In the interview below, Murray talks about Catholic school funding, sex ed and being one of two openly queer Liberal leadership candidates.