KENORA – Leaders Ledger - This coming weekend delegates from the Liberal Party of Ontario will select a new premier. Since October when Dalton McGuinty announced his decision to step down as Premier due to numerous scandals plaguing his leadership, I have made the conscious decision to not comment on candidates or their chances on winning the leadership. With the results of that contest only days away I will not change my position and will let things unfold as they may.
By using an antiquated delegated convention, where each riding sends delegates who are only bound to support a candidate on the first ballot, a select few individuals will have the power to choose our province’s next premier.
As I have previously stated, how long that individual will serve as Premier is entirely in their own hands. The decision to work with opposition members to craft a budget that is fair and acceptable to most MPPs or to draft a document that they know will lead to the defeat of the government is at that individual’s discretion.
From interacting with most of the leadership candidate for more than a year I can say there are some potential premiers who fall into the first category, while others, particularly those who have shown their interests to be more partisan than the others, clearly fall in the latter category.
Similarly, while some of the candidates have made efforts to distance themselves from some of the decisions made by Dalton McGuinty over the last few years, others have indicated that their leadership will be similar if not almost identical to that of the Premier they are set to replace.
I believe I speak for most, if not all, northerners when I say hopefully a candidate offering real and substantive change is successful in their bid to be the next Premier of Ontario.
In Ontario, and particularly in the north, we are at a crossroads. We need a leader that will listen to all sides before making a decision, admit when a policy or piece of legislation isn’t working and act swiftly to rectify the situation and put the interests of all Ontarians, not just those of a particular political stripe or region, first. None of these were traits that Dalton McGuinty was known for but they will be if the right decisions are to be made to move this province forward.
While I find it concerning that all of the candidates for the Liberal leadership are from Southern Ontario, the fact is a northerner does not have to be Premier for our region to succeed – the Premier simply has to be willing to listen, appreciate the wisdom of northern voices and understand the appropriateness of self-determination. If our wisdom and needs are respected, then the new Premier will take a different approach from McGuinty’s ‘my way or the highway’ stance to northerners and give them a voice, something that has not been done by a governing party for quite some time.
Sarah Campbell MPP