By Doug Hallett
It appears Guelph MPP Liz Sandals will run again in the next election, and she says she’s backing Kathleen Wynne in the race to replace Dalton McGuinty as Liberal party leader and Ontario’s premier.
Asked about speculation making the rounds that she might not seek re-election again, Sandals said, “I’m surprised you’re hearing that, because it isn’t anything I’ve said to anybody.”
She said this isn’t the time for a formal announcement about seeking re-election. However, by noting that the paperwork for her to run again is sitting at Liberal party headquarters in Toronto, she hinted strongly that she’ll try to win the Guelph seat for a fourth time.
“If I had told them I wasn’t running, they wouldn’t have the paperwork to force me to run,” she said in an interview Wednesday.
Sandals, who was first elected to the legislature in 2003 after many years as a local public school trustee, said she’s supporting Wynne’s leadership bid “for a whole bunch of reasons.”
Wynne has the “passion and spark and vision and communication skills to be a very good leader,” she said.
Wynne also has a good background in cabinet posts, including heading the ministries of education, transportation, municipal affairs and aboriginal affairs, Sandals said, calling these “big areas of responsibility in the province.”
Sandals used to be Wynne’s parliamentary assistant in the education and transportation portfolios. “That’s lingo for MPP sidekick to the minister,” she said, explaining what it means to be parliamentary assistant.
Sandals noted that she has also worked with Wynne on the government’s treasury board. Wynne “has that balance between fiscal reality and Liberal principles,” she said.
As well, “I know she’s a good team builder, and that’s important for both the leader and the premier to be,” Sandals said.
Sandals was asked about Guelph Provincial PC Association president Greg Schirk’s comments this week about former cabinet minister Sandra Pupatello likely becoming the next Liberal leader and likely wanting a byelection to get a seat before a general election is called.
She said Schirk’s line of thinking about a general election not likely happening before early next summer is only one of the possibilities.
“Schirk’s speculation on timing is one way to look at it,” she said. “There are other ways, and if Sandra was leader she could choose to do it differently . . . anything is possible.”
Pupatello wouldn’t need a byelection to become premier if she emerges victorious at the Jan. 26 Liberal leadership, Sandals said.
If Pupatello does want a byelection to get a seat in the legislature before a general election, the presumption is that Finance Minister Dwight Duncan would vacate his Windsor-area seat so that Pupatello could run in it, Sandals said. Duncan has the seat next to the one formerly held by Pupatello, and he has already said he won’t run in the next general election.
Sandals said opposition parties will have at least three opportunities to bring down the minority Liberal government after the legislature is recalled following the Liberal leadership convention. The vote on the government’s Speech from the Throne is a confidence vote, and two votes on the next provincial budget would also be confidence votes, she said.