The election later this month of a successor to Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty is only the opening act in a Liberal play that could determine the relative place of the party in 21st century Canada.
And a happy ending is not guaranteed.
The Ontario leadership vote will be followed seven weeks later by the selection of a new Quebec Liberal leader. In mid-April the federal Liberals will choose a successor to Michael Ignatieff.
The Quebec/Ontario/Ottawa triangle is central to Liberal fortunes in Canada. More than half of all elected Liberals provincially and federally hail from the country’s two largest provinces.
Simultaneous campaigns for the leadership of the Liberal parties of Ontario, Quebec and Canada are unprecedented. So is the fact that, to varying degrees, all three are in trouble.
At this juncture, it is hard to determine which of the incoming leaders will be handed the most poisoned chalice.
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As a final note, some telling numbers: Today across Canada, 436 MPs and MLAs serve under a Conservative banner (including the Saskatchewan Party and Alberta Wildrose party.) At 247 and 246 each, the NDP and the Liberals are virtually tied for second place, but for how long?
The British Columbia Liberals are facing long re-election odds this spring; the party’s hold on power at Queen’s Park is tenuous; the future of the Liberal brand is more uncertain than ever in Quebec. In 2013, the Liberals will have to cling to the belief that the darkest hour is just before dawn.
Next comes the article from the Star's Queen's Park bureau writers Robert Benzie and Rob Ferguson, "Ontario Liberal leadership: Candidates in secret one-on-one talks". Noteworthy, as Mike pointed out, is the relative strength of the various candidates. From the perspective of out politicians in Ontario--I've blogged about this before (1, 2)--it's noteworthy that Kathleen Wynne is in the lead while Glen Murray is badly behind.
The seven would-be successors to Premier Dalton McGuinty are holding secret one-on-one meetings with an eye toward building alliances for the Jan. 25-27 leadership convention, the Star has learned.
Sources say candidates have been huddling in restaurants, hotel bars and even in each other’s houses and condos over home-cooked meals in recent days to discuss strategy for the delegated Maple Leaf Gardens convention.
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This weekend, 1,712 delegates will be elected in 107 ridings. An additional 419 ex officio members — such as MPPs, defeated candidates, and party brass — and 144 youth representatives from 18 campus clubs and eight women’s club delegates can also vote.
That means 2,283 Liberals will directly determine the next premier of Ontario.
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Looking ahead to this weekend’s delegate election meetings, preliminary party data suggests Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne leads with 1,533 backers running to be delegates in all 107 ridings.
Pupatello has 1,281 in 106 ridings.
Gerard Kennedy, the former Parkdale—High Park MP and MPP who finished second to McGuinty in the Liberals’ 1996 leadership contest, has 846 in 97 ridings.
Mississauga South MPP Charles Sousa has 778 in 92 ridings and St. Paul’s MPP Eric Hoskins has 714 in 97 ridings.
Murray has 461 in 82 ridings and Mississauga Erindale MPP Harinder Takhar has 456 delegate candidates in 54 ridings.