Straight Talk
ANTHONY FUREY - Wynne inherits a challenge

Ontario's new premier, Kathleen Wynne, holds her first press conference at the Delta Chelsea Hotel in downtown Toronto

Credits: MICHAEL PEAKE/Toronto Sun/QMI Media


OTTAWA -- These are the big takeaways from Saturday's Ontario Liberal convention that saw Kathleen Wynne become premier-designate:

One: This was one of the last major delegated conventions in North American politics. That's a good thing. This school gym "red rover" game nonsense where entire camps flock to another candidate is brainless. It also makes people more likely to focus on insider matters instead of the issues.

Particularly jarring when you consider that just over 2,000 people installed Ontario's next premier.
Surely candidates would prefer this to end, too. While delegated conventions are in one sense heavily brokered, they're also full of wild cards. Many considered Charles Sousa a shoo-in to cross-over to frontrunner Sandra Pupatello when he fell off the ballot. Instead, he pulled out and threw his
support behind Wynne. His motivation was likely inside baseball - not about what's best for party or province.

Next time the Ontario Liberals will likely follow the three federal parties and move to one member, one vote. Great for the province and probably the party too. Bye-bye old guard, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Two: For people who get swept up in the "historic" component of elections, Ontario having its first female and gay premier all in one is cause for celebration.

I've tried to avoid even mentioning this stuff because I don't think "what" a person is matters at all. But it's clear that it does to others.

Particularly those obsessed with making everything a racial, sexual or gender issue.

Wynne is arguably the most influential gay politician in the world now (Barney Frank, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives, left office earlier this month). While Iceland Prime Minister Johanna Siguroardottir is a lesbian - and, like Wynne, first had children from an earlier marriage with a man - the country has a small population of 300,000. While Wynne represents -- although has not yet been elected by -- more than 13 million people.

The politically correct crowd will be in for a rude awakening though when they see how this impacts the Liberal vote count. The urbanite bubble's clichéd perspective likely assumes rural people will have the most trouble accepting Wynne's personal life. It's true there is a contingent that believes there's a gay agenda in Ontario's school system - and some activists have succeeded in getting rather silly over-the-top texts into the supporting materials - but it's more likely the ethnic enclaves in the GTA suburbs that balk.

Third: Most significant to average Ontarians, this leadership process happened in a haze of magical thinking. The major issues that plague both province and party were hardly mentioned. It was almost taboo to bring them up. When McGuinty prorogued the legislature he also halted the continued probing of eHealth, Ornge and the power plants. Of course, Wynne never spoke these words (although did hint at them in her Sunday speech). When will the Ornge committee be reconvened?

Will McGuinty attend if called? They better disclose everything soon, or the OPP investigation of Ornge will do it for them.

To be honest, I think many prominent Liberals are scared. They know these scandals are very serious. PC MPP Frank Klees said he believes we may see criminal charges related to Ornge.

Deep down they also understand - although you wouldn't always know it - just how serious the debt and deficit has become. Ontario becoming a "have not" province is embarrassing. One quick fix easy answer that was dealing with the teachers hasn't been quick or easy. How will Wynne handle other financial reforms?

One thing's for certain, Wynne has certainly inherited a challenge.

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