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Ontario elects Canada’s first openly gay premier

Kathleen Wynne pulls off decisive victory despite Liberal Party scandal

Premier Kathleen Wynne celebrates her Liberal Party’s victory June 12 in an election many considered too close to predict. Credit:

Ontarians elected the first openly gay premier in Canadian history, June 12.

Liberal Kathleen Wynne, dogged by scandal and hobbled by more than a decade of skeletons in the closet, managed to pull out a decisive win, giving her a majority government.

Though former MNA André Boisclair won the Parti Québécois leadership race and enjoyed significant popularity in 2005, he lost the next general election two years later. 

Heading back to Queen’s Park with Wynne is openly gay MPP Glen Murray.

Wynne’s big win was a thorough spanking for Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, whose austerity platform proved controversial and resulted in huge losses for his party.

Hudak announced his resignation as it became clear just how badly his party had done.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, meanwhile, essentially broke even. Her party lost key seats in Toronto but picked up new ridings in southwestern Ontario, leaving them more or less where they were when they defeated the Wynne government in May.

Horwath gave no indication that she would step down as NDP leader.

The Greens — the only party that took the controversial stance that the Catholic and public school boards ought to be merged — picked up three points in the popular vote but remained shut out of the legislature.

The election was defined early on by Hudak’s hapless campaign and aggressive platform, which promised to axe 100,000 public jobs. The result, the PCs argued, would create a million jobs — a figure subsequently disputed by a number of economists. The ensuing confusion derailed Hudak’s campaign for weeks and likely cost him Ontario’s top job.

Much of the movement happened in Toronto, where the Conservatives lost their one seat and a resurgent Liberal Party knocked off two New Democrats — incumbent Jonah Schein and longtime MPP Rosario Marchese — and brought Cheri DiNovo, noted queer advocate and champion of the provincial trans rights bill, within a few hundred votes of defeat.

DiNovo’s cross-partisan co-sponsors of the bill, Christine Elliott and Yasir Naqvi, both held on to their seats with comfortable margins. Elliott, wife of the late Jim Flaherty, is expected to launch a bid to replace the embattled Tim Hudak with a pitch to rebuild the party.

Polls leading up to election day left the door open to everything from a Conservative majority to an NDP minority, but few surveys predicted the extent to which Wynne would sweep the province.

The Ontario results mirror a national trend of rebounding Liberal parties. BC Premier Christy Clark led a surprising upset over New Democrat Adrian Dix last year, while Nova Scotia Liberal Stephen McNeil destroyed Darrell Dexter’s NDP.