The seven contenders for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party faced off in the final debate in Toronto January 9 before heading into the Leadership Convention on January 25-27.
The candidates are Eric Hoskins, Gerard Kennedy, Glen Murray, Sandra Pupatello, Charles Sousa, Harinder Takhar and Kathleen Wynne – all current or former MPPs with provincial Cabinet experience.
Education took a centre stage during the debate at the time when hundreds of teachers protested outside against the Bill 115 that imposed contracts on thousands of Ontario education workers.
The candidates also discussed the state of the Toronto and Ontario economy, including economic growth and housing. They expressed their concerns with the Toronto condo boom that as Gerard Kennedy stated creates “a concrete jungle with less focus on green space.”
Glen Murray proposed tackling the issue of affordable housing by requiring help from condo developers at the time when the government is trying to eliminate a $14-billion deficit.
Harinder Takhar called for the creation of government bonds devoted entirely to raising money for infrastructure projects.
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The next leader will be elected by 2,283 Liberals. During January 12-13 weekend, 1,712 delegates will be elected in 107 ridings. An additional 419 ex officio members (including MPPs and defeated candidates) and 144 youth representatives from 18 campus clubs and eight women’s club delegates can also vote.
So far, Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne leads with 1,533 backers running to be delegates in all 107 ridings.
The former Windsor West MPP Sandra Pupatello has 1,281 in 106 ridings.
Gerard Kennedy, the former Parkdale—High Park MP and MPP, has 846 in 97 ridings.
Mississauga South MPP Charles Sousa has 778 in 92 ridings and St. Paul’s MPP Eric Hoskins has 714 in 97 ridings.
Toronto Centre Glen Murray has 461 in 82 ridings, but he dropped out on the next morning after the debate in order to back a front-runner Kathleen Wynne.
Mississauga Erindale MPP Harinder Takhar has 456 delegate candidates in 54 ridings