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.

McGuinty-level postsecondary attainment rate too high, analyst says

Governments and postsecondary institutions are caught in a higher education arms race with no grasp on when enough education is enough, education policy analyst Watson Scott Swail says.

“When I hear governors, premiers, prime ministers and presidents asking for more, more, more [postsecondary education], my first question is why. Please show me the evidence we need more,” Swail, president of the Educational Policy Institute, a Washington, DC-based non-profit, said during a talk at the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario’s (HEQCO) conference in Toronto Friday.

Swail criticized the U.S. Department of Education and other U.S. federal agencies that are pushing for a postsecondary attainment rate of at least 60 per cent in the United States, saying that quality of education needs to come before higher enrollments.

Since 2005, the McGuinty government has been funding its $6.2-billion Reaching Higher Plan and its goal of having 70 per cent of Ontario’s students completing postsecondary education, either at college or university.

According to a HEQCO report from earlier this year, Ontario already has a 61 per cent postsecondary attainment rate and is on track to reach 70 per cent before any other province.

“We are creating a lot of parchment in areas that we don’t need jobs [because] we don’t really have the connection or dialogue between labour, business, industry and education,” Swail says.

“By and large there is no conversation and that is insane, because higher education, whether you like it or not, is vocational.”

Swail is Canadian-born but spent the majority of his career in the United States, a country that, he says, is caught in an education crisis that will befall Canada in 30-40 years if postsecondary enrollment continues to grow without changing the way it prepares students for the workforce.

HEQCO’s conference “Learning to Earning: Higher Education and the Changing Job Market” brought together education stakeholders and policy-makers to discuss trends in the job market and the future of postsecondary education in Ontario.

HEQCO is an arms-length government agency of the Government of Ontario with a mandate to research and evaluate the postsecondary education system and provide policy recommendations to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Former provincial education minister Janet Ecker, who spoke in a panel alongside Swail, said talent and skill gaps between graduates and what employers are looking for need to be identified.

Ecker also said the future of Ontario’s depends on “more collaboration between the industry that needs good, skilled people and the colleges and the universities and the training institutes that provide them.”

“The fact that there isn’t more of this conversation going on in a way that makes sense for both sides is a gap.”

Swail is distinctly critical of the bachelor’s degree, saying that because of its prevalence and the lack of job skills it provides, it has become nothing more than a filter for employers.

“If you talk to employers, why do they ask for a B.A.? Because it shows proof that [the candidate] can do something, and there’s enough of them out there that you can use it as a filter. But here’s the worst part: It’s not the B.A. anymore; it’s the M.A.”

Swail gave an anecdote about a research assistant he employs at the Educational Policy Institute. The woman has two master’s degrees, but he only pays her $40,000 USD because of the extraneous number of resumes he receives whenever he posts a position.

“Every time I put out a call for a new position, I get more resumes than I can handle. So how much is enough [education]? I think the real construction question is what can they do? I want that skill assessment. I want that competency base in every degree, especially B.A.s.”

The Ontario government’s Reaching Higher expansion plan included the creation of 15,000 new graduate spaces by 2011-12.

Ecker is optimistic that university-run programs such as co-ops and work placements can go a long way towards producing graduates with hard-skills that are in demand in the workforce.

Swail says these programs useful but are lacking because of the challenges they pose to traditional universities.

“They’re difficult to do and time-consuming to set up, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t keep on pushing for them.”

by Allison Smith