By Frank Giorno
Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberal Party met Friday and Saturday in Toronto to plan strategy for the upcoming June 7, 2018 provincial election.
In Northern Ontario the Liberals currently hold three seats Michael Gravelle, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines (Lib-MPP, Thunder Bay -Superior North; Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs (Lib-MPP, Thunder Bay-Atikokan) and Glenn Thibeault, the Minister of Energy (Lib-MPP, Sudbury).
They hope to pick up a few more of the 13 Northern Ontario ridings, including the new ridings of Kiiwetinoong in Northwestern Ontario and Mushkegowuk in Northeastern Ontario.
The Liberal’s strategy meeting took place in the the wake of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives’ twin resignations the last week in January – party leader Patrick Brown and its party president Rick Dykstra for sexual misdeeds.
But Kathleen Wynne told party members said the party will be focused on improving the lives of Ontario’s people and not on the PC’s turmoil.
“Understandably… there is a lot of talk about who our opponent will be — who will be leading the Conservatives in this election, but here’s the thing. It’s not who we’re fighting against. It’s who we’re fighting for,” Wynne said.
Wynne said she was both encouraged and disheartened by the accusations that led to the departure of Brown and Dykstra.
“I’m inspired by the courage and the resolve of the women who come forward to share their experiences. I marvel at their strength in the face of pain and scrutiny,” she said. “But I am heartbroken that in 2018, we are still confronted by this vile and unacceptable behaviour that is dominating our headlines right now.”
Patrick Brown was accused by two women of in appropriate sexual conduct one about 10 years ago when Brown was a politician in Barrie, and the other in 2012 when he was a Member of Parliament. Rick Dykstra was accused of sexual misdeeds by a member of his staff in 2014.
Premier Wynne revved up Liberal members by counting out the recent party achievements – pharma care for youth under age 25, low unemployment rates, a balanced provincial budget and investments into hospitals, roads, schools, transit and long-term care homes.
But she added, Liberals cannot become complacent. She acknowledged there are many challenges ahead including dealing with the increased automation and workplace technology that needs to be harnessed positively and for the benefit of the people of Ontario.
She could also have added high hydro costs that are faced not only by homeowners, but also for investors who see the high rates, despite programs introduced by the Liberals to defray some of the costs, as impediments to growth.
In addition, on January 19, 2018, David Livingston, former senior official in the office of then Premier Dalton McGuinty, was convicted of destroying computer files to cover up evidence of McGuinty’s decision to halt in-progress construction of two natural gas hydro plants in Mississauga and Oakville on the eve of the 2011 election.
This followed a fall marred by a lengthy college teacher’s strike in the fall of 2017.
Just prior to the sudden resignations of Brown and Dykstra, polls had the Liberals trailing the PC by as much as 10 percent.
Wynne encouraged party members to get out and canvas and to get out the vote.
“Every single vote counts,” Premier Wynne said. “That means every single visit on every single doorstep counts. Every single conversation. Every opportunity to tell the people of Ontario how we are working for them.”
“We have the best team, we have the best plan, and we have a clear purpose,” she said. “Fighting to build a fair society where everyone has the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”
Responding on behalf of the Progressive Conservatives, Lynne McLeod (MPP, PC) called the Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals as untrustworthy
McLeod said the provincial Liberals are saying anything to get re-elected.
“Wynne said that the upcoming election is about who she is fighting for, and I know exactly who she is and has been fighting for. She is fighting for millionaire hydro executives, corporate donors, and liberal insiders,” MacLeod said in the statement.
“For 15 years she has been turning her back on the hardworking people of this province. For 15 years she has been lining the pockets of liberal insiders. For 15 years you have been paying more yet getting less.”
In the aftermath of Patrick Brown’s resignations Vic Fedeli (PC-MPP, Nipissing) was named the interim leader of the party.
A leadership vote will take place on March 10 featuring a contest between Doug Ford, former councillor and brother to the controversial late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford; Christine Elliott who served as a PC MPP for Whitby-Oshawa (2006-2015), and finished second behind Patrick Brown in the 2015 Leadership contest.
Recently a third candidate tossed her hat into the race — Caroline Mulroney, an untested politician, who has never held political office but possesses name recognition because she is the daughter of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
Northern Ontario’s Vic Fedeli has declined to enter the leadership race to devote his energy on removing what he termed the internal rot that has affected the PC party. Fedeli indicated that in addition to the twin resignations for sexual misdeeds, there is also concern about the party membership data.
Northern Ontario Riding nominations