Three Torontonians hoping to be crowned Ontario's next premier urged delegates to vote for them at today's Liberal leadership convention at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (the former Maple Leafs Gardens).
Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne, considered second going into the convention, former MPP and MP for Parkdale-High Park Gerard Kennedy and St. Paul's MPP Eric Hoskins are among six candidates in the race.
Wynne said she heard the pleas of Liberals during the campaign to renew the party, focus on fiscal responsibility, fix the relationship with teachers, support the needs of rural and small-town Ontario and improve transportation and affordable housing.
Because she already has a seat in the legislature, unlike frontrunner, former Windsor MPP Sandra Pupatello, and Kennedy, Wynne said she is in the best position to start serving as premier immediately and would recall the prorogued legislature Feb. 19.
A lesbian, Wynne said Ontario voters are ready for a gay premier.
It wasn't long ago that most of the candidates would not have been considered acceptable to voters because of their gender, sexual orientation or ethnic background. But Ontarians now consider candidates based on their merits and accomplishments.
Kennedy said he is committed to respecting Ontarians by listening to their concerns, fulfilling the party's responsibilities and delivering results. He focused on creating jobs for young people and repairing the fractured relationship with teachers and other public servants.
"I will not let the next generation be worse off than the one before," he said. "We cannot give into an us and them mentality. That is just a gift to one person, Mr. Hudak."
"I ask you to fight the urge to be safe. Think beyond your first ballot."
Before dropping off the ballot after receiving the fewest votes in the first round, Hoskins urged the party to embrace social causes.
Hoskins put his support behind Wynne. After dawning a Wynne scarf, he said, "It was time for a woman Premier to lead this great province. I am very proud to support Kathleen."
Mississauga-Erindale MPP Harindar Takhar, in fourth after the first round of balloting, put his support behind Sandra Pupatello.
FIRST BALLOT RESULTS:
Sandra Pupatello, 599 votes (28.7%)
Kathleen Wynne, 597 votes (28.6%)
Gerard Kennedy, 281 votes (13.5%)
Harindar Takhar, 235 votes (11.3%)
Charles Sousa, 222 votes (10.7%)
Eric Hoskins, 150 votes (7.2%)