Wynne victorious after convention

Kathleen Wynne was announced as the new leader of Ontario's Liberal party after last weekend's convention. (Contributed photo - Ontario Chamber of Commerce)
Kathleen Wynne was announced as the new leader of Ontario’s Liberal party after last weekend’s convention. (Contributed photo – Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

It didn’t take long to see that last weekend’s Liberal leadership convention was going to be an exciting race.

Three rounds of voting took place before Kathleen Wynne emerged victorious over candidate Sandra Pupatello to be declared as provincial Liberal leader and premier-designate of Ontario. Wynne received 1,150 votes over Pupatello’s 866 on the last ballot – a far cry from the two votes that separated the candidates after round one results came through.

“There was a real momentum shift during the day that you could sense that Kathleen was building in her support. And it was incredible to watch,” said Karen Scian, a Waterloo city councilor who attended the convention.

Pupatello continued to lead after the second round with 817 votes. Wynne was in second with 750, with Kennedy and Sousa trailing in third and fourth, respectively.
And then the unexpected happened.

“That was the moment that everything changed, when Sousa went the other direction,” recalled Scian. “Once he made that choice it was game on.”

Both Sousa and Kennedy crossed the stage to join the Wynne camp, bolstering the support for Wynne that led to her ultimate victory. Sousa’s decision came as a surprise to some, as many expected that he would back Pupatello.

However, according to John Milloy, Liberal MPP for the riding of Kitchener, surprises are the norm at most leadership conventions.

“The only thing that’s certain at a leadership convention is that you should expect the unexpected,” he said. “At the end of the day, we picked an outstanding candidate for leader.”
Scian, who was in support of the Pupatello campaign, added, “She’s got an incredible toolkit of leadership skills. At this time, she has become a significant role model for a significant section of the population.”

Wynne is Ontario’s first female and openly gay premier.

The anticipated date for parliament to resume is Feb. 19, the day following family day. Post-secondary education is undoubtedly an issue that will be addressed.
Milloy assured that Wynne has the experience and dedication to back educational changes moving forward.

“I think what you’re going to see is someone who continues to see the value of it, who continues to make sure we have the resources in it, who continues to look for ways to transform it and make sure it’s responsive to the needs of the economy,” he asserted.

Wynne previously served as the minister of education from 2007 to 2010 and was the parliamentary assistant to the minister of training, colleges and universities from 2003-2004.

Although they have not spoken with her since this weekend’s results, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) met previously with Wynne while she was campaigning to outline their priorities in addressing post-secondary education needs.

“One of the big things that we focused on with her was primarily on the affordability piece of education and we realized that one of the decisions that the new cabinet has to make is regarding the new tuition framework that is up for renewal,” said Alysha Li, the president of OUSA.

OUSA’s main considerations, which it outlined to Wynne and hopes to see implemented in a new Ontario tuition framework, include a minimum year-long tuition freeze and should tuition increase, it do so at no more than the rate of inflation.

Li continued, “I think she [Wynne] was open to listening and she was open to having a dialogue. We’re hoping to continue that dialogue and keep that conversation going [once parliament is back in session].”

She added that although the prorogation of parliament caused some delays, OUSA was still able to work with officials and staff during that time.

Wynne was unavailable for comment.