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Missed on the long shot

If I had a bookie, I would have gambled and lost. Everyone was anointing Kathleen Wynne as the winner before the final ballot on Saturday during the provincial Liberal leadership convention.
My thinking was that while most losing leadership candidates paraded to the Wynne camp, their supporters might not follow. I imagined a “Dewey defeats Truman” scenario where all the politicos were wrong and Sandra Pupatello wins, stunning all convention-goers.
I was wrong. The provincial Liberal party took a walk on the wild side going with Wynne, rather than what I saw as a safer bet in Pupatello. Good on them and good luck, because I think they will need it. This isn’t because of Wynne’s sexuality or being from Toronto, either.
It’s because the party is carrying a lot of baggage. A new leader, no matter how dynamic, cannot wipe past misdeeds and misplays from the ledger.
Being a convention junkie, I lapped up the political punditry. Probably the most interesting point was made by former Liberal premier David Peterson. He opined that it might not matter a whit who the Liberals pick. This is because they have been in power for nine years, which he described as an eternity. He didn’t say it, but he seemed to be intimating that being in power that long can make a government look tired and worn in the eyes of the electorate.
And, being a party man, Peterson also didn’t itemize some of the issues the party is carrying around on its back. Gas plants, Orgne and an $11.9-billion deficit, to name but a few. Add angry hordes of teachers, and I am not sensing a lot of love in the air. The weird and wonderful thing about politics, though, is that things can change very quickly. Ask provincial Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak. You may recall the last election was his to lose. He lost.
Meanwhile, I cannot imagine Guelph MPP Liz Sandals not being named to Wynne’s cabinet. Besides being a diligent soldier for 10 years, she was one of the first party members to back Wynne’s leadership bid. She has worked closely with the premier-designate in a couple of portfolios at Queen’s Park as well.  Liz Sandals, minister of . . . what I don’t know. However, there are more than 20 cabinet positions up for grabs. Surely she can dovetail into one of them. We will find out this week.
Then on Feb. 19, Queen’s Park is expected to be back in action. A new session, a new premier and a minority government. It should be fun, and only time will tell if the Grits backed the right candidate.

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