Liberal leadership candidate briefing: Charles Sousa

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Credentials:

  • MPP for the riding of Mississauga South since 2007
  • Member of provincial cabinet since 2010 (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Minister Responsible for the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games and Minister of Labour)
  • Launched Ontario’s first immigration strategy in November 2012

If elected, Sousa would:

  • Become Ontario “Jobs Premier” by increasing investment in the province.
  • Improve transportation systems to the North.
  • Expand the province’s energy transmission capacity.

Supporters:

  • MPP Soo Wong (Scarborough—Agincourt)
  • MPP Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest)
  • Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion attended Sousa’s leadership announcement but did not formally endorsed him.

Odds of victory:

  • Low. Sousa is largely unknown outside the Queen’s Park circle. Even as a cabinet minister, Sousa has a low profile, rarely speaking during Question Period.
  • A recent poll by Forum Research found Sousa and Harinder Takhar to be the least popular of the seven candidates, each with only 2 per cent of public support.
  • That said, the leadership will be decided by delegates, not the public. Sousa has been campaigning hard and his performance at the first two leadership debates were well-regarded.

Sousa’s campaign website is here: http://votesousa.ca

Liberal leadership candidate briefing: Eric Hoskins

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Credentials:

  • MPP for the riding of St. Paul’s since 2009
  • Member of cabinet since 2009 (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Minister of Children and Youth Services)
  • A family doctor and Oxford Rhodes Scholar
  • Co-founded charity War Child with his wife Samantha Nutt

If elected, Hoskins would:

  • Address youth unemployment in Ontario by offering business incentives for youth job creation.
  • Support rural Ontario by launching a Rural Jobs and Economic Development. Strategy, a Rural Transit Strategy and a strategy to deliver high speed Internet throughout rural Ontario.
  • Promote healthy living as a way of keeping the province’s healthcare system sustainable.

Supporters:

  • MPP Amrit Mangat (Mississauga—Brampton South)
  • MPP Tracy MacCharles (Picking—Scarborough East)
  • Former MPP Jim Brownwell
  • Filmmaker Deepa Mehta
  • Former Ontario Liberal Party presidents Gord Phaneuf and Mike Eizenga

Odds of victory:

  • Moderate. Hoskins may remind delegates of a young McGuinty. He is agreeable and non-controversial, but not highly experienced in politics (McGuinty was).
  • At the very least, this leadership run should boost his public profile.

Etcetera:

  • Hoskins, who grew up in Simcoe, Ont., is trying to expand his appeal beyond the GTA by promoting himself as rural boy at heart.
  • In a gaffe at his leadership launch, Hoskins compared the tension in the legislature before McGuinty announced prorogation in October to war-torn areas of Africa he visited as a humanitarian doctor.

Hoskins’ campaign website is here: http://ericforleader.ca.

Liberal leadership race candidate briefing: Gerard Kennedy

Credentials:

  • MPP for the riding of Parkdale—High Park from 1999 – 2006 and for the riding of York South from 1996 – 1999
  • Member of provincial cabinet from 2003 – 2006 (Minister of Education)
  • Federal MP for the riding of Parkdale—High Park from 2008 – 2011

If elected, Kennedy would:

  • Use negotiation and bargaining, rather than legislation, when it comes to new teacher contracts. Kennedy is the only candidate who has called Bill 115 a mistake.
  • Kennedy has the advantage of being able to distance himself from the McGuinty government, since he has not worked for them for six years, but he stands behind its full-day kindergarten initiative and the rurally-unpopular Green Energy Act.

Supporters:

  • Former MPP George Smitherman
  • Former MPP Steve Peters

Odds of victory:

  • When it comes to winning leadership races, Kennedy certainly has his own record against him. He lost the Ontario Liberal leadership to Dalton McGuinty in 1996 and the federal Liberal leadership to Stéphane Dion in 2006. Third time’s a charm?

Photo sourced from the Waterloo Record.

More information available on Kennedy’s campaign website: http://www.gerardkennedy.ca/

Liberal leadership race candidate briefing: Sandra Pupatello

Credentials:

• MPP for the riding of Windsor West from 1995 – 2011
• Member of cabinet from 2003 – 2011 (Minister of Community and Social Services, Minister of Education, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, Minister of International Trade and Investment)
• Bay Street cred: Rather than running in the 2011 general election, Pupatello took a position as director of business and global markets at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

If elected, Pupatello would:

• Create jobs, jobs, jobs!
• If elected leader, Pupatello said her main task will be to foster the creation and maintenance of well-paying jobs, which she believes is the key to flourishing the economy and balancing the budget.
• Pupatello has painted herself as a job-creation specialist and has yet to comment on any other specific issues during her campaign.

Supporters:

• Finance Minister Dwight Duncan (Windsor—Tecumseh)
• Government House Leader John Milloy (Kitchener Centre)
• Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli (Ottawa West—Nepean)
• Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Michael Chan (Markham—Unionville)
• MPP Teresa Piruzza (Windsor West)
• MPP Phil McNeely (Ottawa—Orleans)
• MPP Bill Mauro (Thunder Bay—Atikokan)
• MPP Helena Jaczek (Oak Ridges—Markham)
• MPP Joe Dickson (Ajax—Pickering)

Odds of victory:

• Very good. So far Pupatello is the favourite in the race. Her (albeit, short-lived) Bay Street career gives her the goods on the economic policy front and her public service experience is expansive.
• By declining to run for reelection in 2011, Pupatello dodged the scrutiny surrounding eHealth, ORNGE and the gas-plant scandal that has harrowed the remainder of McGuinty’s cabinet over the past year.
• Pupatello is the only candidate from outside the Greater Toronto Area, which could help her gain delegate support in a larger number of regions.

Etcetera:

• In her leadership announcement, Pupatello said she will hold a byelection to secure herself a seat before she recalls the legislature, possibly postponing the winter session until March. This sentiment proved unpopular and other candidates have since vocalized their plans to put MPPs back to work by mid-February.

Photo sourced from Pupatello’s campaign website: http://signup4sandra.ca/

Liberal leadership race candidate briefing: Kathleen Wynne

Today: Kathleen Wynne

Credentials:

  • MPP for Don Valley West riding since 2003
  • Member of cabinet from 2006 – 2012 (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs from 2011 – 2012, Minister of Transportation from 2010 – 2011 and Minister of Education from 2006  – 2010)
  • Former public school trustee for Toronto’s ward 8

If elected, Wynne would:

  • Repair the government’s relationship with teachers’ unions, which was soiled by McGuinty’s controversial back-to-work legislation this fall
  • Continue the government’s plan to reduce Ontario’s $14.4 billion deficit
  • Use her ability to “seek common ground on difficult issues” to avoid polarizing partisanship

Supporters:

  • Attorney General John Gerretsen (Kingston and the Islands)
  • Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey (Brampton-Springdale)
  • Liberal MPP David Zimmerman (Willowdale)
  • Liberal MPP Mario Sergio (York West)
  • Liberal MPP Reza Moridi (Richmond Hill)
  • Past Liberal candidates Christina Bisanz, Lori Holloway, John O’Leary, Gloria Rezler and Fred Larsen

Odds of victory:

  • Not bad. Wynne has strong support within her caucus and NDP leader Andrea Horwath’s recent rise in popularity may make delegates favour electing a female leader.
  • On the other hand, as Education Minister for four years, Wynne has been very close to teachers’ unions in the past. Now that the Liberals are in their bad books, the unions could use their influence to knock her out of the race.

Etcetera:

  • Wynne has been known as a very left-of-centre member of the provincial Liberals, but in this campaign she is painting herself as an eager centrist willing to listen to both sides of the table

 

Photo sourced from Wynne’s campaign website: http://kathleenwynne.ca

Liberal leadership race candidate briefing: Glen Murray

The Ontario Liberal leadership race continues to make headlines as more candidates toss their hats into the race (Eric Hoskins became the sixth candidate to enter yesterday).

Over the next few weeks, Queen’s Park Today will bring you detailed briefings on each of the candidates, analyzing their platforms, supporters and the odds they will replace Dalton McGuinty.

Today: Mr. Glen Murray

Credentials:

  • MPP for the riding of Toronto Centre since 2010
  • Member of cabinet from 2010 – 2012 (Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Minister of Research and Innovation)
  • Mayor of Winnipeg from 1998 – 2004

If elected, Murray would:

  • Institute a “no-money-down” plan for college and university tuitions that would allow a greater number of students to borrow for their education
  • Create a 12-month interest-free repayment period for student loans and introduce tax incentives to encourage employers to assume students’ debts
  • Add a tax cut for the middle-class: Murray’s proposed plan would give a $500 tax rebate to families of four earning $70,000 annually, or a $200 tax rebate to single parent families with a young child in daycare earning that $35,000 annually.
  • Replace provincial RRSP and childcare deductions with grants that would save the province money but provide the same incentives to taxpayers

Supporters:

  • Techvibes.com’s Dan Verhaeghe endorsed Murray as Ontario Liberals best choice for premier in order to improve technology and education in the province.
  • Former minister George Smitherman and former Research in Motion CEO Jim Balsillie attended Murray’s leadership announcement, but neither formally endorsed him.

Odds of victory:

  • Probably not great. Murray has spent less time as an MPP and as a member of the Ontario Liberal Party then any of the other candidates and is currently lacking any big name endorsements.
  • Murray’s platform lacks substance and does not account for how the province would finance his proposals, particularly the tax cut for the middle-class, or how he will deal with the larger problems facing the Ontario Liberals.

Etcetera:

  • Murray says that if he wins the leadership he will recall the Legislature on February 19, 2013 — the day the spring session begins on the Parliamentary Calendar.

Visit Murray’s campaign website: http://www.renewliberal.ca for more.

Wynne, Murray and the politics of sexual orientation

On Monday, Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne became the second person to enter the Ontario Liberal leadership race. In doing so, she also became the second openly gay person to enter the Ontario Liberal leadership race.

Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray, also an openly gay politician, formally entered the race Sunday.

Although more candidates are expected to throw their hats in the race, there is a real chance that Ontario’s first openly gay premier will be elected on January 25.

Ontario’s first openly lesbian MPP, Wynne was first elected in 2003 after serving as a trustee on the Toronto District School Board. Wynne served as the minister of aboriginal affairs and municipal affairs and housing in Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet until she resigned last week in anticipation of running.

These candidates’ personal lives are not likely to trump the politics of the election, and that is a good thing, but a politician’s sexual orientation can still affect expectations of their policies.

In an interview with LGBTQ newspaper Xtra, Murray was asked whether or not he would challenge the public funding of Catholic school boards. The Catholic school system has been under fire by the LGBTQ community since its public opposition of Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act, last spring. The bill, one of the few pieces of legislation that passed during the last session of Parliament, gives students the right to form Gay-Straight Alliances in schools. It was supported by all parties.

The Catholic school boards’ heavy opposition to the bill led some to question the continuation of public funding to the Catholic school system, which is ingrained in Ontario’s constitution. Murray told Xtra that he will not be quick to impose change on the school system.

“We as gay and lesbian people, even though we disagree with some of the ways Catholics are using their constitutional rights, we should be loathe to undermine them.”

Murray said he fought hard for gay and lesbian rights since he was a teenager and that he sees the erosion of anyone’s rights as dangerous.

Murray also said that now that he is no longer in cabinet, he is free to speak up more about the treatment of gay and lesbian youth by Catholic schools, and that he intends to do so.

Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner is one of the few politicians that is a vocal opponent of the Catholic school system, although his qualms are more fiscally-based. Schreiner does not hold a seat in the legislature.

Wynne also expressed no interest in reforming Ontario’s divided school system, saying instead that she would work to improve relations with teachers that were shattered with the passage of McGuinty’s Bill 115 earlier this fall. Even from within cabinet, Wynne was a vocal opponent of the bill.

In her leadership speech, Wynne spoke about the need for parties to seek consensus on issues and listen to arguments from both sides of the table.

“As leader of the party and as Premier I will continue to seek the common ground of the public agenda. It requires openness, transparency, honesty and good faith. I think I’ve demonstrated my commitment to those values in my public and in my private life,” Wynne said.

In his interview with Xtra, Murray was critical of the amount of attention his sexual orientation has received, particularly from Toronto media, in the past few weeks.

“The word gay, lesbian, queer has come up more in the last three weeks than it has in my entire political career and it’s interesting to me that the only people who have raised this are some of the folks in the broader Toronto media, which I found a little comical because generally those of us in Toronto think that we are a little more sophisticated and open-minded than the rest of the country and I’m not sure that’s true.”

Sexual orientation matters, not because it affects a politician’s ability to get elected or win a leadership race, but because of the set of political expectations it assumes. Reformation of the Catholic school system would not likely have come up within the first few days of this race, except that it is an issue that is important to people in the candidates’ broader communities.

If both of these candidates were from rural ridings, or French-speaking, or under 30, or of racial minorities, the media would be talking about that comparison and issues that matter to those implied communities as well.

When asked if he thought sexuality matters in the leadership campaign, Murray smiled and said: “Of course sexuality matters. Sexuality always matters; it’s one of the great things about being alive.”

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Charles Sousa and former cabinet minister Sandra Pupatello are both expected to enter the race. The deadline for entrants is November 23.

Check out Xtra’s full interview with Glen Murray here.