Kathleen Wynne’s big surprise .. maybe this really is the start of some new Ontario Liberal dynasty (or maybe not, of course .. but .. )?

Jan 26th, 2013 | By | Category: In Brief

Oliver Mowat, Premier of Ontario, 1872–1896 — and the man who consolidated the Liberal Great Reform dynasty of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (and did so much else to lay the groundwork for modern Ontario's free and democratic political culture).

TORONTO. COLLEGE PARK FOOD COURT. SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 2013. 9:00 PM ET.  So it is now official — and the “pleasant surprise” vainly hoped for on this site just two days ago has come to pass. Kathleen Wynne is the new leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. Very soon she will also officially become not just the first woman premier of Canada’s most populous province — but the first openly gay first minister/chief executive of any provincial or federal government in Canada.

The first sign that something of this sort might be in the wind at this Ontario Liberal leadership convention in the old Maple Leaf Gardens was Ms Wynne’s first-ballot finish just two votes behind the still front-running (and quite lovely) Sandra Pupatello. Then, thanks in no small part to Harinder Takhar, Ms. Pupatello finished 67 votes ahead of Ms Wynne on the second ballot, and the momentum seemed to have shifted away from any big surprise. But then Charles Sousa and Gerard Kennedy suddenly moved (literally) to Ms Wynne’s camp. The third ballot confirmed that the great mass of the Sousa and Kennedy delegates moved with them, and “Wynne won 1,150 votes to Pupatello’s 866” — quite enough to take the day, in a final effective electorate of 2,016 delegates (with a democratic majority of 1,009 needed to win).

We only have two quick thoughts at this point ourselves. First, many are saying that Kathleen Wynne’s speech earlier in the day was a big factor in her win. We’re not close enough to the front lines to judge this ourselves. But we (well, most of us it seems) did see her speech on TV. And it seemed a knockout to us. At the end we suddenly felt that Kathleen Wynne actually would make an excellent premier of Ontario.  Now we’ll get to see if this is true!

October 2011 : “Dalton McGuinty becomes the first Liberal premier since Oliver Mowat, 128 years ago, to win three consecutive elections.”

Second, many outside the Ontario Liberal Party will point to the thousands of demonstrators on the streets (and in the parks) outside the old Maple Leaf Gardens today and tonight, and rightly enough urge that both the party and the Queen’s Park minority government that Kathleen Wynne will soon inherit are still in a lot of trouble. Ms Wynne herself acknowledged as much in her nicely plotted victory remarks, when she said that the work has just begun. It is also all too true that even democratic politics in Ontario is a blood sport which is very hard to succeed at for very long, especially in the early 21st century. Yet as one of our number noted about half an hour ago, just at the end of the remarkably collegial victory remarks (from both Kathleen Wynne and Sandra Pupatello), maybe Dalton McGuinty has actually done the right thing!  Ontario politics has a long history of long-lived dynasties — from the old Liberal Great Reform dynasty of 1871–1905 to the 1943–1985 Big Blue Machine of the Progressive Conservatives. It may well be that in the 21st century the odds are against any  repetition of this formula by any party or combination of etc, etc, etc. There have nonetheless been moments at this remarkably energetic Ontario Liberal leadership convention when some kind of new “relentless progressive” political dynasty almost did seem to be lurking in the shadows. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. (And we know that, because one of them has just happened right now.)

PS: Congrats to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on winning his court appeal to remain in office. And, even more importantly for us, congratulations to W.S. Noel on this site — who had at least the main outlines of the plot figured out, as long ago as last September! For more details see our “Streetcar Named Rob Ford … Friday 25 January 2013 : Mayor Ford still mayor …  wins appeal of Justice Hackland’s decision …  but… ????.”

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