New premier understands northern issues: MPPs
Liberal cabinet choices, spending decisions will speak to Kathleen Wynne's priorities, observer says
Thunder Bay's two members of provincial Parliament say they're pleased Kathleen Wynne is the premier-designate — even though she wasn't their first choice.
Liberals Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle both endorsed Wynne's main competitor, Sandra Pupatello, early in the leadership campaign. But Mauro says he's fine with the result.
"I felt from the very beginning it would be one of the two of them," Mauro said.
"I thought that Sandra, perhaps, gave us a slightly better chance in a general election, but I know that Kathleen is an incredibly strong campaigner and she has a tremendous amount of substance to her."
Worked 'closely' with First Nations
Gravelle said he's worked closely with Wynne for years and is confident she has the region's interests at heart.
"Premier-designate Wynne has spent a tremendous amount of time in northwestern Ontario and has worked very closely with municipal leaders, with First Nations, with Métis Nation leaders," he said.
"Certainly on the transportation side she understands the challenges we face."
Gravelle said he would be happy to continue serving as Minister of Natural Resources, but will accept any role the new premier asks him to fill — whether it's in cabinet or not.
A Lakehead University political science associate professor said Wynne may be the better premier for northwestern Ontario.
Dr. Laure Paquette said she watched both candidates in December's debate at Lakehead.
"I really did think ... that Kathleen Wynne understood the issues here [and] had briefed herself thoroughly," she said.
"She knew people by name ... So in that sense, I think she's a big-tent Liberal and she's not going to forget about the issues here."
Whether the north is really a priority for Wynne will become clear when she chooses her cabinet and makes spending decisions, Paquette added.