How the Ontario Liberal leadership race is shaping up
Sandra Pupatello announces her Ontario Liberal leadership campaign at Ryerson's Digital Media Zone Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun)
Saying he wants to do politics “differently,” Dr. Eric Hoskins became the sixth person to line up in the Liberal leadership race to become the province’s next premier Tuesday.
Then again, not too many candidates confess to wanting more of the same-old Dalton McGuinty tax-and-squander politics.
You know the routine: Build a power plant. Move it in the middle of an election.
Stiff taxpayers for $1 billion to save a couple of Liberal seats.
Here’s how the race is shaping up:
• Sandra Pupatello is the perceived front-runner and the candidate party power-brokers are most likely to support.
While she doesn’t have a seat, she does have the promise of one from Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, who’d quit in Windsor-Tecumseh, forcing a byelection.
Pupatello’s biggest problem is, well, Pupatello.
Her launch last week appeared unfocused and her message wobbly.
Party insiders were blindsided by her assertion she wouldn’t bring back the legislature until after she’d gained a seat in the House.
She’ll have to pick up her game if she’s to survive the rigours of a tough campaign. If she doesn’t win the first ballot, she’ll be in trouble.
• Kathleen Wynne is a shrewd political operator and can’t be ruled out. While she’s generally seen as being on the left wing of the party, she’s tough and savvy and shouldn’t be underestimated. She’s quietly gaining caucus support and will be a force to be reckoned with.
• Glen Murray’s bid is widely seen as dead in the water. When the biggest item on your resume is that you were mayor of a city that’s not even in this province — Winnipeg — you do start to wonder why he thinks he’s the guy for the job.
• Charles Sousa is another head-scratcher. Dubbed the “$1-Billion Man,” he’s seen as the guy who lobbied hardest and had the most to gain by moving the gas-fired power plant from Mississauga during the last election.
Every time he shows up at a debate or an event, his presence will remind delegates, voters, electricity ratepayers, of that massive boondoggle and the contempt motion that arose from it.
He’s unlikely to win and may simply be raising his profile in case he runs for the job of mayor of Mississauga when Hazel McCallion finally calls it quits.
• Gerard Kennedy was once the Liberal golden boy. Will Liberals jump on the Kennedy bus this time around?
He doesn’t have a seat in the legislature — and it will be tough for him to find one.
The NDP has his Parkdale-High Park fief sewn up.
Provincially, it’s Cheri DiNovo’s turf — and it would be tough for him to unseat her.
The other option would be to have someone step down to make way for him.
That can be harmful and divisive for a party — as the leader’s office casts around for a safe seat — and someone willing to give it up. And there’s no guarantee he’ll win the byelection.
Besides, he’d be the easiest Lib for the Tories to run against, since he backs the teacher unions in their fight with the government. Appeasement will cost money.
• Eric Hoskins is a wild card. He’s been low profile so far, but came across as refreshingly different at his campaign launch. He’s not a career politician — he’s a medical doctor who has done humanitarian work in Africa.
His wife, Dr. Samantha Nutt, had the best line of the campaign to date: “You’d have to be a Nutt to be married to a politician.”
Yep, and slightly crazy to run for leader.