TORONTO – Leaders Ledger – Good Morning, Ahnee, Bonjour, Bojoo, I’d like to acknowledge that we’re on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit.
It’s such an honour to be here with you this morning! Je suis ravi d’être ici!
You have honoured me over the last three months by meeting with me, talking with me and sharing your ideas.
And I promise: I’ve taken very good notes!
You told me that fiscal responsibility is fundamental to our future, and that a fair, inclusive society is what builds a strong, robust economy.
You told me to fix our relationship with teachers, support staff and school boards.
And to listen to rural and small town Ontario.
You told me we must improve our transportation – whether it’s building bridges or investing in transit.
And that creating affordable housing and security for our seniors is as critical in Kenora, as it is in downtown Ottawa.
You’ve told me that economic growth is our number one goal and that means good jobs.
Right here in Ontario. You are all fine people with the best interests of Ontario in your mind
And Liberal values in your heart.
Vous êtes des gens bien, avec les meilleurs intérêts de l’Ontario à l’esprit. Et les valeurs liberals dans vos coeurs, you know that the word “Liberal” is not just some letters on a lawn sign; It’s a generosity of spirit that defines us at our best.
It’s who we are.
And it’s why I want to be your Leader. I am standing here because I love this province.
Je me tiens ici parce que j’aime cette province. It’s bred into my bones.
My grandmother, Eva, was a teacher in Sault Ste. Marie who made sure that her Italian-Canadian students learned English and that their parents did, too.
She taught me about building community.
My grandfather, Charlie, had his lungs stripped by mustard gas in the First World War.
He didn’t talk about that much, but he taught me how lucky I am to live in this beautiful place of lakes and trees and opportunity.
My mom was an orphan who came here from the Bahamas.
She was a singer.
And she led a singing program for young people with disabilities.
It was a simple thing that gave them joy. She taught me that it’s not about giving people handouts, it’s about giving them a purpose.
I’m standing here because I want so much for my darling granddaughters, Olivia and Claire, their other grandmother does, too— Their kokum endured the residential school experience. And her stories have taught me how desperately we need to forge a better relationship with First Nation, Metis and Inuit people.
And that we are a people rooted in diversity.
Whenever I go into a classroom in my riding, I like to ask the kids a simple question.
How many of you speak more than one language?
Two languages, three languages, their little hands stay up in the air.
Some of them actually speak five languages. To me, that’s a beautiful reminder of who we are: And that we are all capable of so much.
Nous sommes capables de tellement de choses.
I’ve offered myself to you as Leader because of that optimism and love, that potential and possibility.
That’s what drives me. I don’t deny that as a Party we have had challenges.
But now is the time to show that we have learned from our mistakes: That they will not happen again.
This leadership race has been about rededicating ourselves to Liberal values, we must be strong and fair. We must raise our hands to embrace every opportunity.
We must focus on the bottom line without letting anyone slip through the cracks.
It’s why we have to balance our budget. It’s why we have to be steely in our fiscal resolve.
It’s why we must keep governing. The past three months have been about ideas, about excitement.
Now, as a party, we get to take that vision, we get to take that momentum, and transform it into a brighter future.
We, collectively, get to put that into action. And the best way to do that is to keep governing.
Because the people of Ontario don’t want an election. Parce que les gens ne veulent pas d’une election. They expect us to lead.
And that’s exactly what I intend to do: First thing tomorrow morning.
I will reopen the Legislature on February 19th. I will find common ground with the Conservatives and the NDP.
I will open my door to every MPP starting with Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath. So. Let’s start that now.
Tim, Andrea. I’m sure you’re watching.
Tim, let’s talk about fiscal responsibility– You care about that.
So do I.
Andrea, you care about creating a fair society.
So do I.
There’s so much we can accomplish if you’re willing to work with a strong, smart, Liberal government.
That’s what the people of Ontario sent us to Queen’s Park to do just over a year ago,
And that’s the priority I bring to you as Premier: But, you know what?
If the opposition doesn’t want to work with us in good faith, if they choose to trigger another election instead… Then make no mistake.
I will fight them for every seat, every poll, every vote in the next election— The Ontario Liberal Party will make our case to the people of Ontario, and we will win.
So, speaking of the next election… Let’s put something on the table: Is Ontario ready for a gay premier? You’ve heard that question.
Let’s say what that actually means: 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.
You know, there was a time, not that long ago. When most of us in this race would have been deemed unsuitable, A Portugese-Canadian, an Indo-Canadian, Italian-Canadian, female, gay, Catholic- Most of us could not have hoped to stand on this stage, but this province has changed.
Our party has changed.
I don’t believe the people of Ontario judge their leaders on the basis of race, colour or sexual orientation – I don’t believe they hold that prejudice in their hearts.
They judge us on our merits – On our abilities, on our expertise, on our ideas – Because that is how everyone deserves to be judged. That is how we want our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews to be judged.
So, when it is time for me to take us into the next general election, I will do it on the basis of our merits, based on our success.
I will take our record to the people of Ontario: Because ten years ago, the wait times in our health care system were the longest in the country.
Today, they’re the shortest.
When the Conservatives were in charge, they closed 28 hospitals. We’ve built 18.
They shut down 500 schools. We’ve built 400 new ones.
Class sizes are lower. Graduation rates are higher.
We have a record to be proud of.
Nous pouvons être fiers de ce que nous avons accompli. But our job is not done.
And so it comes down to this. In the quiet of your heads and your own hearts, You have to decide how we can best move forward.
Who is the right person to lead us there?
Who can take the momentum of this race and make it count in people’s lives?
I have a seat.
I have a path.
And I have a plan.
I believe in us.
Je crois en nous.
To paraphrase a very dear friend— We are the Ontario Liberal Party: The best party in the best province in the best country in the world.
Thank you, merci, migwetch.
Leader, Liberal Party of Ontario
Premier of Ontario