Kennedy joins race for Ontario Liberal leadership
Chris Kitching, cp24.com
Published Monday, November 12, 2012 7:38AM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 12, 2012 9:06AM EST
A former Liberal MP and MPP is hoping to return to politics after becoming the latest person to toss their hat into the Ontario Liberal leadership race.
Gerard Kennedy, who is taking a second run at the party's leadership, announced his bid during an exclusive interview on CP24 Breakfast on Monday.
Kennedy, who does not currently hold a seat at Queen's Park, is the fifth person to join the race to replace outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Kennedy spent part of the interview discussing the province's education system and the ongoing labour dispute involving the Liberal government and public school employees.
Kennedy, a former Ontario education minister, told CP24 that if he becomes premier he will work to resolve the province's fractured relationship with teachers and school support staff.
“I don’t need legislation to get a fix, to get a repair in education," Kennedy said, referring to Bill 115.
Bill 115 has frozen the wages of public school teachers and support staff, and stripped them their collective bargaining rights, effectively barring them from striking or being locked out for two years.
“Bill 115 is not the way that I would move forward to solve problems," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said one of his first steps would be to resume the legislature, which was prorogued in October when McGuinty announced his resignation.
McGuinty has been accused of proroguing the legislature to kill a contempt motion against Energy Minister Chris Bentley and deflect further criticism about his government’s costly decision to cancel gas plants.
Kennedy said he respects McGuinty, but prorogation should only be used to arrange business in the House.
“It would be my view that prorogation should only be used to arrange the business of the house,” he said. “It shouldn’t be used to confer any advantage, and I would see the house coming back as soon as possible.”
Kennedy is promising to deliver answers about the cancelled gas plants if he becomes premier.
“I will assure everybody that they will know everything that they need to know,” he said.
Kennedy said another goal is to rid Queen's Park of a "poisonous atmosphere" that has escalated between rival parties in an attempt to restore people's faith in provincial politics.
“I’ll be trying to gain the confidence of Ontarians that want to see a better government, that are tired of the bickering and the hyper-partisanship," Kennedy said.
In an effort to connect with Ontarians, Kennedy is hosting a series of “coffee shop sessions,” starting in London on Monday.
Kennedy said he is launching his campaign without any prominent backers or big money.
“What I do have is a strong belief is that if people are given a chance they will try and make a different for the better, and that is what my campaign is going to be about," he said.
Kennedy's second bid for Ontario Liberal leadership
This is not the first time Kennedy has made a bid to become the provincial party’s leader.
McGuinty defeated Kennedy in the 1996 leadership race.
Before he entered federal politics, Kennedy was an MPP from 1999 to 2006, spending time as the province’s education minister.
He left provincial politics in 2006 when he made a failed bid to become leader of the federal Liberals.
Two years later, Kennedy became the MP for Parkdale-High Park, but he lost the seat when he sought re-election in the 2011 federal election.
In addition to Kennedy, MPPs Glen Murray, Charles Sousa and Kathleen Wynne, and former MPP Sandra Pupatello are running to become Ontario’s next premier.
MPP Eric Hoskins is expected to join the race Tuesday.
The deadline for potential candidates to enter the race is Nov. 23. Ontario Liberals will pick a new leader in January.
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