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.

Former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray to run for Liberal leadership

TORONTO — Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray announced Sunday he will run for the provincial Liberal leadership.

Murray made the announcement at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens in front of media and supporters, including former provincial cabinet minister George Smitherman. Murray is the first candidate to formally enter the race.

The platform outlined by Murray includes tax cuts for small businesses and the middle class. Murray did not provide details for how Ontario will finance tax cuts while it faces record debt levels, but said he will release his proposal in greater detail in the coming days.

“I am the only candidate in the race who has ever led a government before and has a good record for reducing deficit and reducing taxes and I plan to bring that same experience.”

“I’ve been big city mayor. I have successfully led a large government through similar challenges as we face now,” he told reporters.

Murray served as the mayor of Winnipeg from 1998-2004.

Murray referred to the campaign as the Liberal Party’s chance for renewal, saying, “It is time to press the reset the button.” The idea of renewal is explicated in the domain name for his (not entirely functioning) campaign website, renewliberal.ca.

Yet Murray spent much of his stage time endorsing the McGuinty government’s achievements over the past few years, particularly its gains in education.

Murray also discussed his proposal for “no-money-down” university or college tuition, which would let students enter postsecondary school without having to come up with large amounts of tuition money upfront.

The other ideas forming the pillars of Murray’s platform include “cities and towns that work,” “government that listens” and “smart government.”

As a downtown MPP, Murray is likely to face challenges garnering the rural vote. If elected, Murray said he would sit down with rural communities to rethink the feed-in tariff program that is unpopular in these regions.

“We need to democratize and localize our energy planning,” Murray says. He did not say he would abolish the program or remove it from unhappy communities.

Murray submitted his resignation as the province’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Friday. Premier Dalton McGuinty ruled that members of his cabinet must step down from their portfolios in order to enter the leadership race. Government House Leader John Milloy will be sworn in to replace Murray’s portfolio early this week.

Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne resigned from her Municipal Affairs and Housing and Aboriginal Affairs portfolios last week. Wynne will make her leadership announcement at Toronto’s Japanese Cultural Centre Monday evening.

by Allison Smith