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Preview: Ontario Liberal leadership convention, Jan. 25-27

TORONTO – Elected delegates from the Ontario Liberal Party will choose a new leader to replace Premier Dalton McGuinty at a leadership convention Jan. 25-27, 2013.

Six candidates are vying for the party’s top job and to become Ontario’s next premier after McGuinty announced his surprise resignation on Oct. 15, 2012, and suspended the legislature.

The convention is a delegated event, which means that only delegates elected by the party can vote for the next Liberal leader. The delegates were chosen at leadership election meetings on Jan. 12-13.

Based on official results, former MPP Sandra Pupatello has a slight lead in the race with 504 committed first-ballot delegates, while MPP Kathleen Wynne came in second with 463 delegates.

Scroll below for the convention agenda and candidate details, as well as details on who can vote at the convention, the delegate process and more.





Dr. Eric Hoskins, 52

  • MPP for St. Paul’s
  • Cabinet posts held: Children and youth services and citizenship and immigration

Gerard Kennedy, 52

  • Former MP and MPP for Parkdale High Park
  • Ontario education minister (2003-2006)

Sandra Pupatello, 50

  • Former MPP for Windsor West
  • Held various cabinet posts, including education, economic development and trade and international trade and investment, in the McGuinty government (2003-2011)

Charles Sousa, 54

  • MPP for Mississauga South
  • Cabinet posts held: minister of citizenship and immigration and minister of labour

Harinder Takhar, 62

  • MPP for Mississauga Erindale
  • Cabinet post held: minister of transportation (2003-2012)

Kathleen Wynne, 60

  • MPP Don Valley West
  • Cabinet posts held: municipal affairs and housing, aboriginal affairs, education, and transportation

Former Winnipeg, mayor, Glen Murray, 55, dropped out of the race on Jan. 10, and threw his support behind Wynne.


Location of convention

  • Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre at the former Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.


Who can vote at the convention

  • Delegates (elected by members of the Ontario Liberal Party)
  • Ex-officio Liberals (sitting Liberal MPPs, former Liberal MPPs, current Liberal MPs from Ontario, ex-candidates and party executives who are granted delegate status)
  • Alternates (can be moved to delegate status if a delegate does not attend the convention)


Choosing delegates

Before voting can occur at the convention, delegates must first be chosen.

Delegates, who are members of the Ontario Liberal Party, are chosen by riding associations, Ontario Women’s Liberal Commission (OWLC) clubs and Ontario Young Liberal (OYL) student clubs at leadership election meetings. The delegates attend the convention and vote for a leader on behalf of the association. Each riding (107 in total) can send up to 16 delegates to the convention.

Around 44,000 Liberal members (including those in OWLC and OYL clubs) were eligible to vote for delegates at the leadership election meetings Jan. 12-13 — 1,837 delegates were chosen (the number includes 67 delegates elected as independents). These 1,837 delegates will be joined by about 420 ex-officio Liberals.

According to officials results released on Jan. 14, Pupatello received 27 per cent or 504 committed first-ballot delegates to the leadership convention, followed by Wynne (25 per cent or 463), Kennedy (14 per cent or 257), Takhar (13 per cent or 244), Sousa (11 per cent or 198) and Hoskins (6 per cent or 104).


Voting process at convention

To be elected party leader, a candidate must receive votes from 50 per cent plus one of elected and ex-officio delegates.

However, if none of the candidates receive more than 50 per cent of the vote, another round of voting will take place. After each round of voting, the candidate with the lowest number of votes drops off the ballot. Voting will continue until a candidate receives over 50 per cent of the vote. He or she will then win the leadership.


Convention agenda

Friday (Jan. 25)

  • First round of voting starts Friday morning and ends at 11 p.m.
  • Convention officially opens at 7 p.m.
  • Tribute to outgoing leader Dalton McGuinty at 7:45 p.m.

Saturday (Jan. 26)

  • Welcome greeting at 8:30 a.m.
  • Between 9 a.m. to noon, each of the six candidates will deliver a 30-minute speech to the audience. Order of speeches:

Harinder Takhar (9-9:30 a.m.)
Gerard Kennedy (9:30-10 a.m.)
Kathleen Wynne (10-10:30 a.m.)
Charles Sousa (10:30-11 a.m.)
Sandra Pupatello (11-11:30 a.m.)
Eric Hoskins (11:30 a.m. to noon)

  • First-round voting results are expected to be announced following the candidates’ speeches, after noon.
  • Second round of voting and subsequent ballots (until new leader chosen) starts at 12:30 p.m.


New leader’s first challenge

The winner of the leadership race subsequently becomes the next premier of Ontario. He or she will immediately have to reconvene the House and deal with pressing matters including the gas plant controversy, the budget and the ongoing dispute between the teachers and the province.


With files from The Canadian Press and information compiled from the Ontario Liberal Party