Kathleen Wynne to become Ontario's first female and openly gay premier
Sandie Benitah, cp24.com
Published Saturday, January 26, 2013 6:15AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, January 27, 2013 11:54AM EST
Kathleen Wynne has won her battle for Ontario, becoming the province’s first female premier and the new leader of the Liberal Party.
Wynne grinned and cheered as she heard the results, which were read out at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday on the floor of the Ontario Liberal Leadership Convention.
The Don Valley West MPP beat runner-up Sandra Pupatello by winning more than 50 per cent of the vote.
The openly gay Toronto politician was a front-runner from the start of the leadership campaign though she was continuously bested by Windsor’s Sandra Pupatello in early polls and the first two rounds of voting at Saturday’s convention.
Wynne got the boost she needed after the second round of voting when fellow leadership candidates Gerard Kennedy and Charles Sousa threw their support behind her, leaving her and Pupatello as the only remaining candidates on the ballot.
“I have a pretty strong appreciation for her,” he told CP24. “I think she’ll make a terrific premier. Sandra Pupatello, maybe for another instance. We need a lower key approach with the ability to mobilize a lot of people.”
Sousa said he chose to support Wynne because he wanted to work for a government that prioritized people over politics.
Only two votes separated Pupatello and Wynne after the first round of voting, but after the second ballot, Pupatello’s lead widened by 67 votes.
Eric Hoskins was the first leadership candidate to drop off the ballot and he was the first to throw his support behind Wynne.
Harinder Takhar threw his support behind Pupatello.
After the result of the second ballot was read out, Gerard Kennedy and Charles Sousa both withdrew their names from the race and took about 20 minutes to cross the convention floor towards Wynne’s camp.
Pupatello and Wynne both gave passionate speeches Saturday morning, explaining to their peers their vision for party renewal, their determination to work with the opposition and their vision for Ontario’s future.
Wynne’s speech was called “gutsy” by pundits as she told the room of more than 2,000 people if Ontario was ready for a lesbian premier.
“Can a gay woman win? When I ran in 2003, I was told that the people of North Toronto and Thorncliffe Park weren’t ready to elect a gay woman. Well, apparently they were,” she said.
Pupatello’s speech was energetic and passionate, with one pundit likening it to an election speech rather than a convention speech.
“To those who say Ontario's best days are behind us I say you're wrong," Pupatello said during her speech, pointing directly at the TV cameras filming her. "Together we can do this. I know Ontarians don't want an election but if we're forced into one we'll be ready and I'm the candidate that can win.”
Wynne has vowed to recall legislature from their extended winter break on Feb. 19 and get back to work on mending relations with labour unions and the opposition.
Pupatello does not currently sit in legislature and would have to win a byelection to gain a seat.