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It was Sousa’s dramatic move to Wynne on Saturday — and his quiet lobbying of rivals Gerard Kennedy and Eric Hoskins in a Maple Leaf Gardens bathroom earlier at the Liberal leadership convention — that helped Wynne overtake Sandra Pupatello on the third ballot to succeed Dalton McGuinty and become Ontario’s first female premier.
Asked if he would like to serve as Wynne’s finance minister, the former Royal Bank of Canada executive smiled and said: “I will do as I’m told by our premier-designate because I’m faithful to the province.”
“Sandra’s great, she’d be a great leader, but there was the drawback that she wasn’t in the house, there was a drawback that we’d have to go for a byelection and there was a drawback that we’d still be talking politics and I want to be talking about governing.”
She arrived with a Dufflet chocolate and hazelnut sponge cake — iced in hazelnut butter cream with a dark chocolate ganache glaze — and huddled alone with Hoskins and Nutt for an hour.
Sources say Pupatello — whose campaign claims to have redirected at least $ 20,000 in promised donations to the Ontario Liberal Party in Hoskins’ team’s name last week to help pay for his delegates’ fees — believed Hoskins, mindful he was in last place, would march to her camp immediately after his speech, before the first-ballot results were released Saturday.
Hoskins’ officials deny that account.
Pupatello’s hopes of that convention-floor momentum-builder were dashed when he opted to await the first-ballot tally. That crucial delay allowed Health Minister Deb Matthews, Wynne’s campaign co-chair, and former premier David Peterson, Matthews’ brother-in-law, time to arm-twist Hoskins.
Still, Hoskins initially appeared to be walking across the Gardens floor in Pupatello’s direction amid a throng of supporters and journalists when he stopped at centre ice and turned to point at Wynne, electrifying her backers.
“No, I made no deal and no agreement with either,” he said Sunday, insisting his meandering trek to Wynne’s encampment was because of the arena’s configuration.
But Sousa, who had made no deals with anyone, wanted to try his luck on the second ballot. At the same time he was quietly chatting with Kennedy about together crowning Wynne on a third ballot.
“I was hoping he would come with me so we could do it together, but he opted to have a discussion still,” said Sousa.
“So I thought: I’m on my way.”