Pleased their MPP is about to become Ontario’s new premier, Don Valley West residents are urging Kathleen Wynne to make repairing the province’s standoff with teachers her top priority.
“Whatever she needs to do to fix it with teachers will fix it with kids. The kids are the ones suffering,” Angela Barnard, a Leaside mother of two elementary school children, said in a coffee shop at Eglinton Avenue and Laird Drive Tuesday morning.
“Our kids are losing out on everything (extra-curricular activities). I’m not a political person, I’m not a teacher, I just see how it affects the kids. The premier needs to fix it with the teachers, bottom line. Whatever you have to do, fix it.”
Wynne won the Ontario Liberal party leadership on the third ballot at a convention at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens) Saturday night, Jan. 26, which automatically made her the premier-designate.
Yet to be sworn in as premier, Wynne has identified reducing gridlock as the “number one condition that we need to get right” for the Greater Toronto Area.
Sitting at the table beside Barnard, Maggie Kanellakis also said she wants Wynne to repair the province’s fractured relationship with teachers.
Teachers have staged protests and mounted labour disruptions after the government imposed Bill 115 in place of negotiated collective agreements.
Pointing to a number of controversies that have plagued the Liberals under out-going premier Dalton McGuinty, such as proroguing the legislature and problems with the province’s air ambulance service, Kanellakis hopes Wynne will bring in more transparency as premier.
At the same time, she is pleased to see Wynne leading the province.
Coming out of a drug store at Bayview and Eglinton avenues with her husband, 86-year-old Gloria Way said she is thrilled Wynne won the Liberal leadership.
“I’m elated. I’m just so glad. I pulled for her all along,” she said.
“She has the experience and I think she is giving a woman’s perspective that is needed.”
Although Wynne’s critics say the veteran cabinet minister will have to take responsibility for Liberal scandals, Way disagrees.
“I think we’re wiping the slate clean (with Wynne as the new premier),” she said.
“It’s time to start again.”
Way was disturbed by a phone call she received Monday night asking her how dissatisfied she is with Wynne’s lifestyle. Wynne is Ontario’s first openly gay premier.
“I said I couldn’t care less,” she said.
“It steamed me up.”
While the caller didn’t identify themselves, Way is worried another political party is assessing voters’ attitudes about Wynne’s homosexuality to use in an attack ad.
Walking through Flemingdon Park Plaza holding the hand of his four-year-old daughter, Anthony Makula wants Wynne to rebuild the province’s relationship with teachers because they are they ones who guide children towards opportunities of the future.
A Roma who has been in Canada for five years, Makula and his wife have five children.
He is hoping Wynne will also focus on issues affecting immigrants such as job creation, training and education.
As the father of four daughters, Makula is pleased Wynne is Ontario’s first female premier because it demonstrates women are capable of performing any job.
There is a good chance Wynne will appoint fellow Liberal leadership candidates Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray and St. Paul’s MPP Eric Hoskins and to cabinet positions, according to reports.
Murray dropped out of the race earlier this month and backed Wynne.
Hoskins endorsed Wynne at the convention after dropping off the ballot with the fewest number of delegates after the first round.