Ontario election 2014: Once again, Kathleen Wynne settles the debate

A majority Liberal government means that voters never really connected the dots between Kathleen Wynne and the scandals that plagued her predecessor - and suggests the change Ontarians were willing to accept was her.
Surprise win is just the latest in a long line of political surprises hatched by Ontario Liberal leader 2:15

In 2003 Kathleen Wynne was told she would never be able to defeat Progressive Conservative cabinet minister David Turnbull.

She did.

In 2007, she heard the same thing when then-Progressive Conservative leader John Tory decided he'd run against her in Toronto's Don Valley West riding. But, she defeated him.

In 2011, Wynne faced another high-profile Conservative and despite the talk she was vulnerable, she defeated her too.

So when former premier Dalton McGuinty stepped down, many Liberals approached Wynne, asking her to consider a run for the leadership of the party.

She did consider it and she ran, even though there were Liberals who privately worried that, while they liked the idea of a female leader, she could win the leadership but not the province in a general election because she is a lesbian.

With an open and impassioned convention speech, Wynne became Liberal leader — and last night, Ontario's first elected female premier.

Her choice to go public on what could have easily remained a private issue has now ended that debate.

The election result has also ended the debate over the other debate — the televised one — and Wynne’s uneven performance.

It seems to say: you can lose the leaders debate but win the election.

Putting distance from scandal

However, on a much larger issue, a majority government also means that voters never really connected the dots between Wynne and the scandals that plagued the McGuinty government, even though the PCs and New Democrats campaigned against the re-election of what they called a "corrupt" Liberal government.

Liberal insiders are also very aware that on the scandals file while voters may have forgiven the Liberals, they will not forget decisions that have cost Ontario taxpayers billions of dollars: the gas plants, Ornge Air Ambulance and eHealth Ontario.

So, now Wynne gets down to work, and quickly.

First up, after a night of celebration, a meeting later this morning with Lt.-Gov. David Onley, at which time Wynne will ask that the Legislature be recalled within the next 20 days.

Then, with her sizable — and for many, still surprising — majority government, she'll introduce and easily pass the budget that forced this election in the first place.

It will be a moment of elation for the Liberals and Wynne personally — and a very difficult moment for NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and the soon-to-depart PC leader, Tim Hudak.

After all, they campaigned against the budget, against the Liberals, against Wynne and said it was time for a change.

But the change Ontario voters decided on Thursday was to believe that Kathleen Wynne is not Dalton McGuinty — and never will be.

Breaking down the results

Mobile users, view the charts here.

About the Author

Robert Fisher

Provincial Affairs Specialist

A commentator with decades of experience covering Queen's Park, Robert Fisher writes about politics for He is an award-winning broadcast journalist with more than 30 years of experience in public and private radio and television.


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