A sitting premier has lost their local seat in an election only four times in Ontario’s history. And if recent polls are correct, it may happen again to Kathleen Wynne in Don Valley West.
The contender who appears to have the best chance of beating her on June 7 is Progressive Conservative candidate Jon Kieran. He, along with NDP candidate Amara Possian, will be at the local riding debate tonight. Wynne is campaigning in northern Ontario.
Wynne has represented the riding in the Ontario Legislature since 2003, besting various runner-up PC candidates, including now Mayor John Tory, by thousands of votes. But multiple polls now raise the possibility that the Liberals will lose a number of seats in Toronto, including Don Valley West.
CityNews reporter Cynthia Mulligan spent the afternoon on the campaign trail with Kieran ahead of the riding’s local debate. He estimates he’s knocked on as many as 15,000 doors since he began campaigning.
Kieran has worked in the energy sector, including as director of corporate development at Hydro One. He’s been involved in politics for decades – his very first job was as a speech writer for the Bill Davis’ Progressive Conservative provincial government, 37 years ago
“I’m a Progressive Conservative, what used to be known in the 1980’s as a Red Tory,” says Kieran. “My models of who I’d like to be politically are Bill Davis and David Crombie.”
Kieran supports PC leader Doug Ford’s repeated calls to fire the CEO of Hydro One, saying it’s difficult but it can be done by Hydro One’s board – which Ontario has representatives on.
“It is definitely wise to do it, and for a couple of reasons,” says Kieran. “What is the first thing that the CEO of Hydro One did after Kathleen Wynne vetted him in the position? Number one – his salary went from $4.5 million to $6.5 million. Number two: he bought a coal-fired plant in Montana that is one of the largest single-source emitters in North America. So when I hear Kathleen congratulating herself on taking Ontario out of the coal business, I hope people realize that through Hydro One, we’re back in the coal business.”
As for bringing Hydro One under government control again, by buying back shares as the NDP has suggested, Kieran says the government would have to consult with experts before making decisions.
Also running in Don Valley West is NDP candidate Amara Possian. She is a political consultant who also ran Lead Now – a progressive grassroots political group. She says she decided to run in her home riding when Ford was elected PC leader. She says she wanted to counteract the conservative agenda.
“I’ve organized hundreds of thousands of people around issues that matter to them, both around advocacy and also around elections,” says Possian. “This is the first time that I’m engaging this directly in politics, because I think the stakes are really high this year.”
She says the NDP’s priority of investing in healthcare, including hospital workers, dental care and pharmacare appealed to her.
“I spent a lot of time in Sunnybrook hospital, with my grandmother, waiting in hallways, and it was absolutely heartbreaking to see that, and I’d like to change that,” she says.
Possian and Kieran will be joined at the debate by Etobicoke Liberal candidate Peter Milczyn, who will be speaking on Wynne’s behalf.
This is not the first time the premier has missed a debate in her riding. She also did not attend during the 2014 election.