Life has been a whirlwind of focusing on Ontario priorities since winning the Ontario Liberal leadership on Saturday night but Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne told The Mirror she won’t neglect the concerns of her local constituents when she steps into the premier’s job.
“You just really don’t know what to expect (when you win),” she said in a phone interview Wednesday, Jan. 30, afternoon.
“It’s been very, very busy, lot’s of people have been reaching out and it’s wonderful. It just sped right on from the convention.”
While Wynne acknowledged she won’t be as visible in Don Valley West when she becomes premier, she said her constituency office will be adequately staffed to address the needs of her constituents and she will continue to act as the riding’s MPP.
“I’m not going to stop being the MPP of Don Valley West. It is still my role and I will be in contact with constituents as I have been in the past nine years,” she said, adding the lessons she learned from serving as the riding’s MPP will help serve her as premier.
“It is a terrific riding to represent. It is an intelligent, thoughtful riding. It embodies the best of what we are in Ontario.”
During her victory speech Saturday night at Maple Leaf Gardens, Wynne said she didn’t want to been seen as a Toronto premier. Rather, she wants to represent the concerns of all of Ontario.
That doesn’t mean she will shelve Toronto issues in an attempt to convince Ontarians she isn’t Toronto-centric, Wynne told The Mirror.
“We have to invest in all parts of the province. There’s been this kind of narrative I couldn’t win or we couldn’t win, being a group of us (leadership candidates) that are from Toronto, and most of the province doesn’t like to have premiers from Toronto. I reject that notion,” she said.
“At the same time I think about transit in the GTA, I have to think about bridges in Kenora.”
Transportation in the Greater Toronto Area will be a top priority and Wynne said she will explore “dedicated revenue streams” including toll roads, congestion taxes and parking levies to help fund transit.
Gridlock must be addressed to create a robust economy, which, in turn, is used to fund services such as health care, education and transportation, Wynne said.
Wynne said fellow leadership candidates who are MPPs, including Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray and St. Paul’s MPP Eric Hoskins, would be welcome in her new cabinet but wasn’t willing to discuss what ministries she would name them to lead.
Murray dropped out of the race earlier this month and endorsed Wynne.
Hoskins supported Wynne at the convention after getting bumped out of the race following the first round of voting, in which he had the fewest votes.
When told Don Valley West resident Gloria Way received a phone call Monday night asking her how disappointed she is in Wynne’s lifestyle – Wynne is Ontario’s first openly gay premier – she said anyone who attempts to use that information to discredit her will discover it backfiring on them because Ontarians are not prejudiced people.