Ontario Liberal Leadership: Kathleen Wynne vows to work with opposition
VINCE TALOTTA/TORONTO STAR Ontario Liberal Party Leader Kathleen Wynne says she hopes to avoid “rancour” that stalled the Liberal government under Dalton McGuinty.
Ontario’s incoming premier Kathleen Wynne says she hopes to end the “rancour and viciousness” that stalled the minority Liberal government under Dalton McGuinty.
In her first news conference since winning the party leadership, Wynne said she spoke briefly to Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak about building a new relationship after her convention victory Saturday night at Maple Leaf Gardens.
“He’s going to be around Monday, I’m hoping that I’m going to be able to connect with him,” said Wynne, a Harvard-trained mediator who also planned to reach out to NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.
“That will be the beginning,” she told a packed news conference late Sunday morning at the Delta Chelsea Hotel. “The rancour and viciousness of the legislature can’t continue.”
“Tim and I have always had a pretty collegial interaction … I’m going to take that at face value.”
If she does meet with Hudak on Monday, the discussion will come as the Conservatives launch attack ads noting that Wynne was part of the McGuinty government that brought Ontario the ORNGE air ambulance and eHealth scandals, a burden of at least $ 230 million on taxpayers for the politically-motivated cancellation of power plants in Oakville and Mississauga, and labour strife with teachers over Bill 115, which has left many students without extracurricular activities.
“The past is not going to go away,” Vic Fedeli, Conservative energy critic and MPP for North Bay, said after Wynne’s news conference.
He was critical of Wynne, the MPP for Don Valley West, for not talking more about jobs and the economy in a news conference where she said it will take time for her to pick cabinet ministers and be sworn in before the legislature returns Feb. 19.
New Democrat MPP Gilles Bisson said he’s “a little suspicious” of Wynne’s assertions she will be more open to opposition ideas than McGuinty, who dubbed his government re-elected with fewer seats in 2011 a “major minority” because it was just shy of a majority.
“Right now it’s all talk,” added Bisson, his party’s house leader, echoing Fedeli’s comments about the legacy Wynne inherits from McGuinty.
“They have a nine-year record that’s hard to run away from.”
Wynne said her “door is open” to teacher unions infuriated by Bill 115 but repeated she will not tear up contracts imposed on school boards under the controversial legislation.
The 59-year-old said it’s “exciting” to be Canada’s first lesbian premier but she does not see that as her focus.
“I’m not a gay activist. That’s not how I got into politics,” Wynne said. “I can be an example … if I can help (gay) people be less frightened, that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.”
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