Liberal leadership candidate Kathleen Wynne, becomes the next premier of Ontario after the third ballot at the Liberal Leadership convention, Toronto on Saturday, January 26, 2013
Credits: Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
TORONTO -- In the final vote, it came down to a choice between a woman who said she'd bring the opposition "to its knees" and another who said she'd reach out to Tory Leader Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath of the NDP to make minority government work.
Delegates chose the negotiator -- and Kathleen Wynne -- to be the province's first woman premier and the first openly gay premier in the country.
But those are just labels.
Wynne is more complex than that.
During the leadership campaign, I sat down for a chat with her in a small diner in her midtown Toronto neighbourhood.
She grew up in Richmond Hill, Ont., the eldest of four girls.
Her dad, John, was a family doctor and her mom, Patsy O'Day, a singer.
Wynne married young and had three children before she realized something was missing in her life.
She grew up taking part in all the conventional high school activites -- and didn't come out as a lesbian until she was 37.
"I dated the captain of the hockey team. I was fully part of the social scene at Richmond Hill High School," she told me. "It (being gay) wasn't part of my consciousness."
She got married at 24 and lived in the Netherlands for three years, where two of her children were born.
It was only later she realized something was missing -- and the love of her life was Jane Rounthwaite, whom she'd met earlier at university.
"I have to be true to myself," she explained. "I have to find my own passion -- by that I mean passion for life."
Part of that is understanding my own sexuality -- there's just no way around it. I honestly believe I am of more use to the world -- whether it's to my children or whether it is to the political sphere or whether it's my community -- being honest and true to myself. So that's why I felt it was important to change my life," she said.
At her news conference Sunday, she made it clear she isn't in politics because she's gay.
"I'm not a gay activist. That's not how I got into politics," she told reporters, when asked what impact electing an openly gay premier will have on young people.
Wynne pointed out she has other accomplishments. She's a mom who got into politics when her kids were young. But she understands she is a role model.
"It's important to me that young people and people who are frightened see the possibilites.
"If I can help people to be less frightened, then that's a wonderful, wonderful thing."
She's been one of Dalton McGuinty's most competent cabinet ministers.
She wasn't flashy, but kept on top of complex issues in education, transportation and municipal affairs.
Wynne is also forthright and disarmingly frank, and doesn't tap dance around questions or duck difficult issues.
She tackles them head on.
As a former Toronto school trustee, in 2002, she controversially refused to vote for a balanced budget -- shortly before she was elected provincially.
Once she's in the premier's chair and the reality of governing within a budget hit home, she may regret that history.
Watch out for a very different cabinet than McGuinty's.
While Wynne was paying tribute to the outgoing premier and praising his legacy this weekend, you can bet she'll put a very different face on the premier's office.
Her key supporters include Health Minister Deb Matthews.
As well, leadership contenders Eric Hoskins and Charles Sousa threw their support to her at critical times. Glen Murray dropped out of the race to support her.
They will all, quite reasonably, expect key jobs.
Wynne made it clear early in the campaign that she was not happy with McGuinty's tough stand with teachers. And she didn't approve of shutting down the legislature.
Her to-do list reads like this, I suspect: Job 1. Get house back.
Job 2: Get extracurriculars in schools.
You go, girl.