Tabuns to try for NDP leadership

Peter Tabuns, former head of Greenpeace Canada and MPP for Toronto-Danforth, has launched his bid for the leadership of the provincial New Democratic Party.

Peter Tabuns, former head of Greenpeace Canada and MPP for Toronto-Danforth, has launched his bid for the leadership of the Ontario New Democratic Party.

Tabuns, 57, threw his hat in the ring Sunday before an enthused group of supporters, declaring that he will build a "new energy economy" in Ontario.

As leader, he said his top priorities would be creating jobs and dealing with what he called the environmental crisis.

"What we need to present ourselves as much more is a party of solutions. We have to have a very clear, big picture of what it's going to take to future-proof Ontario," Tabuns told reporters after the rally.

"And that's going to mean taking on the environmental issues and a more activist government."

Tabuns said he will be busy rebuilding the party in the years leading up to the next provincial election.

"It's my expectation that I will be out there, actively developing our organization, building support for the NDP and putting together an organization that will contest the next election very vigorously."

Standing behind Tabuns are several labour council heads, CUPE Local 1, and people within the South Asian and Chinese communities, along with environmental and social justice activists, he said.

Tabuns has what it takes to become premier, rookie Toronto MPP Cheri DiNovo said.

"[He] has the green credibility ... and he also has the economic credibility. He represents a step forward, a real positive program for the NDP," said the legislator, who represents Parkdale-High Park riding.

"An appeal to the younger voter, an appeal to those whose major concerns are jobs and the environment — not either or — that's what Peter represents."

Tabuns is a former deputy mayor of Toronto who championed smoke-free restaurants and bars during his time in office. He lives in Toronto with his partner, Shawn Kerwin, and adult son Anton.

Party whip Gilles Bisson, who represents Timmins-James Bay, Toronto legislator and former East York mayor Michael Prue and Hamilton Centre MPP Andrea Horwath are also contenders for the leadership.

Howard Hampton, who has been party leader since June 1996, steps down in March, when a leadership convention will be held in Hamilton.

The NDP currently holds 10 seats in the 107-member Ontario assembly.