Northern Ont. Liberals give Pupatello thumbs up

Six politicians are vying for the top job in the province, but one in particular has support from the north.

Sudbury MPP says Sandra Pupatello will focus on jobs and prosperity

The Ontario Liberal Party will pick a new leader and premier this weekend at the party’s first leadership convention since the selection of Dalton McGuinty in 1996 3:38

Six politicians are vying for the province’s top job, but one in particular has support from the north.

As the Ontario Liberal leadership convention kicks off today in Toronto, Liberal MPPs from northern Ontario will be there to choose a new leader.

All of the regions' Liberal MPPs say they're behind Sandra Pupatello to be the province's next premier.

Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines Minister and Sudbury Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci says Liberal leadership candidate Sandra Pupatello will be a good fit for northern Ontario. (CBC)

Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci said Pupatello has a unique understanding of the issues facing the north, because she's from Windsor — and there are parallels between the economy there and in northern Ontario.

"Windsor has a very, very high unemployment rate," he explained. "And so her focus is on jobs and prosperity for all of northern Ontario."

Bartolucci also commented on her personal commitment to political leadership.

"I've grown to really appreciate her incredible desire to serve," he said.

"She's very, very articulate. She's very, very aggressive when she has to be aggressive. But she understands the uniqueness of Sudbury and northern Ontario."

Respects northern residents

Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti said Pupatello's background in economic development would be a boon to the whole province's economy. He also said she respects northern residents and politicians.

"Our northern Liberal MPPs — and opposition MPPs for that matter, I think — will be impressed by her willingness to work with northerners to find solutions," Orazietti said.

For their part, the two Liberal MPPs in northwestern Ontario — Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro — are also supporting Pupatello.

And so far in this horse race, she is the front-runner.

Pupatello has the most committed first-ballot support, followed closely by Kathleen Wynne, with Gerard Kennedy third. Following these candidates are Harinder Takhar , Charles Sousa and Eric Hoskins.

But those commitments are for the first ballot only, and now, Ontario's other potential leaders will try to woo the 2,200 select delegates into their own camps.