The gays are out of the gate.
The Ontario Liberal leadership race has another official contender in Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne, who announced her candidacy Nov 5.
She is the second gay entrant, after Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray announced his bid Nov 4. If either is successful come Jan 25, they will become Canada’s first openly gay premier. Wynne would also make history as Ontario’s first female premier.
“What I see in Ontario is a diversity of people,” she said to a full room at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. “What I want to make sure is that everyone in this province feels safe, whoever they are — that they feel they have a place in the province. That’s what equity is about.”
She resigned on Friday as minister of municipal affairs and housing and aboriginal affairs, posts she had held since October 2011. (Outgoing premier Dalton McGuinty made it a requirement that leadership contenders resign from cabinet.) The MPP for Don Valley West since 2003, Wynne has also headed the ministries of transportation and education.
She does not plan to address the divisive issue of provincial funding for the Catholic school system, she said.
“I’ve been very clear that we have an education system that is strong, that needs to be nurtured,” she said. “To be distracted by that kind of governance discussion — that’s not something that I’m going to do.”
Wynne’s announcement speech put an emphasis on improving relationships, particularly with Ontario teachers after much debate over Bill 115.
She spoke of finding a middle ground on contentious issues, saying she believes this is what she has to offer the province.
“This is a sorely needed skill at a time when some politicians choose to polarize issues, not listen to other opinions, to denigrate those that have different thoughts, behaving as though they alone possess the truth. No one alone possesses the truth.”
Glen Murray, MPP for Toronto Centre since 2010, is the only other contender to have officially made a bid for the Liberal leadership. His platform includes “no-money-down” post-secondary tuition and tax cuts for the middle class and small business.
Murray has also served in the Ministry of Research and Innovation and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. He was mayor of Winnipeg from 1998 to 2004 and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute from 2007 to 2010.
Others are expected to announce bids for the leadership in the coming weeks. Any potential candidates have until 5pm on Nov 23 to submit leadership forms.
Some known possibilities are Eric Hoskins, minister of children and youth services; former cabinet minister Sandra Pupatello; Charles Sousa, minister of citizenship and immigration; and Deb Matthews, minister of health.
Former minister of education Gerard Kennedy, who lost a bid for the party leadership to McGuinty in 1996, is another rumoured candidate. A recent poll suggests Kennedy is the top choice among the public to take McGuinty’s place, the Toronto Star reported Nov 2.
The new leader will have to decide when to bring back the legislature after McGuinty prorogued on Oct 15.
Below is video coverage of Wynne’s announcement.