Ontario Liberal leadership race begins in earnest

The race to lead the Ontario Liberal party back from the political wilderness begins in earnest on Monday as the deadline arrives for leadership candidates to declare they’re running.

Monday is deadline for candidates to join race to succeed Kathleen Wynne

After her party was trounced in the 2018 election, Kathleen Wynne announced her resignation as Ontario Liberal leader, triggering the race to replace her. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)

The race to lead the Ontario Liberal party back from the political wilderness begins in earnest on Monday as the deadline arrives for leadership candidates to declare they're running. 

Six candidates have now joined the contest to succeed Kathleen Wynne as leader, with the eventual aim of trying to unseat Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives in the June 2022 provincial election.

Ottawa lawyer Brenda Hollingsworth — told CBC News on Monday that she submitted her paperwork and deposit last week to join the race, but is waiting for approval from the party's so-called "green light committee."

In a news release Monday afternoon, the Liberals announced Hollingsworth was one of the candidates to meet the Monday 5 p.m. deadline and "we are now commencing the Party's official green-lighting process with her."

The Liberal party briefly considered changing how to pick their leader, but rejected calls for a membership-wide vote. Instead, the party will stick with selecting delegates to vote in a one-day leadership convention on March 7.

The five leadership who joined the race before Hollingsworth have been criss-crossing the province and working the phones to drum up support along party members. Only those who have become members by next Monday, Dec. 2 will be eligible to vote for delegates to the convention. 

The winner will face significant challenges to get the party competitive in time for the 2022 campaign. After governing Ontario for nearly 15 years, the Liberals were decimated in the 2018 election. They salvaged just seven seats, losing the status and caucus funding of a recognized party in the Legislature. Of those seven MPPs, two resigned this year, both from the Ottawa area.

Recent figures from Elections Ontario show donations to the party in 2019 total less than $700,000, a far cry from the $4.3 million in fundraising reported by the Progressive Conservatives.  

These are the Liberals who who officially joined the race for the party leadership before Monday. 

Steven Del Duca 

Former cabinet minister Steven Del Duca is seeking the Ontario Liberal leadership. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Steven Del Duca is the former MPP for Vaughan who served as Wynne's minister of transportation and minister of economic development. Before winning his seat in a 2012 byelection, Del Duca worked for Greg Sorbara, his predecessor in the riding, and as an advisor to former premier Dalton McGuinty. He was previously the director of public affairs for the Carpenters' District Council of Ontario. Del Duca was defeated in last year's election along with all other Liberal incumbents in the 905, and became the first candidate to join the leadership race. 

Michael Coteau

Don Valley East MPP Michael Coteau, a former cabinet minister, is running for the Ontario Liberal leadership. (Mike Crawley/CBC)

Michael Coteau is the MPP for Don Valley East and was first elected in 2011. He served in Wynne's cabinet for her entire time as premier with posts that included citizenship and immigration, tourism, culture and sport, as well as children and youth services. Before entering provincial politics, Coteau spent eight years as Toronto District School Board trustee. He worked as a community organizer for the United Way, an English as a second language instructor and a literacy activist before getting into politics.

Mitzie Hunter

Scarborough-Guildwood MPP and former cabinet minister Mitzie Hunter is seeking the Ontario Liberal leadership. (CBC )

Mitzie Hunter is the MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood and first won her seat in a byelection in 2013. She joined cabinet after Wynne led the Liberals to a majority in 2014, serving as the associate minister of finance, education minister and finally minister of advanced education. Hunter, who has an MBA from the Rotman School of Management, worked as the CEO of the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance, chief administrative officer of the Toronto Community Housing Corp., and as a vice-president with Goodwill Industries. 

Alvin Tedjo 

Alvin Tedjo is a candidate for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. (CBC)

Alvin Tedjo was a 2018 election candidate for the Liberals in the riding of Oakville North - Burlington. Tedjo was director of government relations at Sheridan College. He previously worked as a policy advisor at Queen's Park, served as the vice-president of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and founded an organization called Canadians For Paternity Leave. He announced his leadership bid in May and gained media attention this fall by proposing a policy to dissolve Ontario's Catholic school system and merge it with the public school boards. 

Kate Graham 

Kate Graham, who ran for the Ontario Liberals in London North Centre in the 2018 election, is seeking the party leadership. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Kate Graham was a 2018 election candidate for the Liberals in the riding of London North Centre. Graham is an academic, holding teaching and research posts at Western University, King's University College and Huron University College. Her areas of research include local government, urban politics and public policy. She previously worked as the City of London's director of community and economic innovation. Born and raised in southwestern Ontario, Graham is the only one of the five declared candidates who's not from the Greater Toronto Area. 


About the Author

Mike Crawley

Provincial Affairs Reporter

Mike Crawley is provincial affairs reporter in Ontario for CBC News. He has won awards for his reporting on the eHealth spending scandal and flaws in Ontario's welfare-payment computer system. Before joining the CBC in 2005, Mike filed stories from 19 countries in Africa as a freelance journalist and worked as a newspaper reporter in B.C.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.