TORONTO, Ont. – Premier-to-be Kathleen Wynne met with the Liberal caucus Tuesday as she got down to work as the party’s new leader.
Only 10 caucus members endorsed Wynne during the three-month leadership campaign. Most threw their support behind runner-up Sandra Pupatello, who was leading the race until three other leadership candidates went to Wynne’s camp.
On the way in to her first caucus meeting as Liberal leader, Wynne dismissed suggestions of rifts within the party.
“There are no hard feelings,” she said.
“That’s one of the reasons that I wanted to have a caucus meeting as quickly as possible because I don’t think we should allow any potential rifts to widen.”
“I think it was a very positive and constructive leadership campaign. I want to just put that whole notion to bed,” Wynne said.
Wynne said she plans to talk to the opposition party leaders in an effort to make the minority government work and avoid an election, and still plans to bring back the legislature on Feb. 19.
On Monday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on Wynne to hold a public inquiry into the cancellation of two Greater Toronto Area gas plants.
Wynne said she would like to discuss the idea of an inquiry in private with Horwath before responding publicly.
She declined to say who would be in her cabinet, but agreed she would keep her commitment to appoint herself as agriculture minister for at least one year — although it may not be this year.
Glen Murray, who dropped out of the leadership race and endorsed Wynne, said he hasn’t been offered a specific cabinet post, and dismissed suggestions he could become education minister.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan denied reports he’s already accepted a private sector job, but said he intends to resign his seat.
“The party needs to renew itself and therefore, people like me really do need to step aside,” Duncan said.
On Monday night, Wynne spoke with Mayor Rob Ford at a board of trade dinner.
Wynne said transit and addressing gridlock in the GTA is a priority.
“Transit is a huge priority,” she said.
“I think it is a number one condition that we need to get right in terms of economic growth.”
She said she expects to meet with Ford soon.
McGuinty, who said he plans to stay on as an MPP until the next election, did not attend Tuesday’s caucus meeting.