Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne, a frontrunner in the Ontario Liberal leadership race, is thrilled Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray is endorsing her campaign after he dropped out of the contest.
“It’s a great boost for the team,” Wynne told The Mirror during a phone interview on her way to Northern Ontario Thursday afternoon.
“I have a lot of respect for Glen.”
Amid lagging support, Murray announced Thursday morning he was dropping out of the race and declared he wants to see Wynne as the next party leader and premier of Ontario.
While Murray is seen to be more fiscally focused than Wynne, she said they see eye-to-eye on a broad range of issues.
“He and I have usually agreed on issues in cabinet and caucus. He’s really progressive,” she said.
“He has good ideas on economic development and on fiscal situations.”
As Liberals prepare to select delegates this weekend who will vote for the next leader at the Jan. 25 to 27 leadership convention in Toronto, Wynne is gaining substantial support.
“I’m really pleased about the momentum we’ve got and I’m not taking anything for granted,” she said.
“I’m running to govern.”
On Thursday, Wynne announced former Perth-Wellington MPP John Wilkinson has joined her campaign as co-chair.
Wynne boasted that her ability to recruit Wilkinson, who has strong rural roots, displays her grassroots campaign and her ability to connect with Ontarians across the board.
Wilkinson, who joins Health Minister Deb Matthews as co-chair of the campaign, said Wynne has run an “exceptional grassroots campaign.”
“The next leader and premier must be able to connect with all Ontarians, especially rural and small towns, and Kathleen has demonstrated she’s the best candidate to get the job done,” he said in a statement.
“Kathleen is the best candidate to be premier. She is thoughtful, compassionate and brings people together to tackle tough challenges. I’ve watched her reach out and earn support from all sides of the political spectrum in all parts of the province. Kathleen is exactly the premier and leader we need right now.”
During her leadership campaign, Wynne has signed up the most new members at 8,000, has the most delegate candidates at more than 1,600, has delegate candidates from all of Ontario’s 107 ridings, all 17 university campus clubs, and has the highest number of grassroots donors and has the most innovative online campaign, Wilkinson said.
Wynne and former Windsor MPP Sandra Pupatello are seen as the frontrunners in the race.
Pupatello is considered the choice of the party’s establishment and has the support of many high-profile Liberals such as Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.
Other candidates are St. Paul’s MPP Eric Hoskins, former Parkdale-High Park MPP Gerard Kennedy and Mississauga MPPs Charles Sousa and Harinder Takhar.
Wynne said her team has had discussions with other campaigns about where candidates will throw their support as they fall off the ballot at the convention but said no promises have been made.
“We are keeping the lines of communication open with other campaigns,” she said.
Murray, a former mayor of Winnipeg, was first elected Toronto Centre MPP in a byelection in 2010 and was re-elected in 2011.
He has served as Minister of Research and Innovation and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.