Kathleen Wynne and her team have sent in their responses to my questions for the Ontario Liberal Party leadership, and again, I will re-post them verbatim (and just a note: I’m not going to be passing along any commentary on any of these until I receive all of them – or all that I get. I’ll leave the commentary to you folks and then perhaps sum up my thoughts once they are all in and I get a chance to compare them). I thank Ms. Wynne for sending these in.
There are many candidates running to be the Ontario Liberal Party leader. What do you feel makes you best qualified to be the leader/Premier?
This is a critical moment not just for the party, but for all Ontarians. Leadership is about bringing people together. I can build strong, honest relationships with partners inside and outside of government.
Throughout a lifetime of public service and community activity, I’ve worked to build bridges and develop innovative solutions to difficult problems. Leadership isn’t about any one person – it’s about building the right team. That’s the perspective I would bring to the table.
What would be your first priority upon being elected Ontario Liberal leader and Premier?
The Ontario Liberal Party has an incredible record of success, built on strong fiscal stewardship and an inclusive vision of the future. In order to build on that success, my first priority will be to appoint a cabinet, bring back the legislature as scheduled, craft a Throne Speech, and introduce a budget. I am firmly committed to our fiscal plan of paying down the deficit by 2017-18 so we can get our province to where we need to be: deficit free, paying off debt and ensuring Ontario is a prime environment for investment of all kinds.
The opposition parties are already saying they want an election, but I think we need to keep working together and serving the interests of Ontarians. I agree with Glen Murray that the legislature should return on February 19th as scheduled. The legislature works for the people of this province, and obviously everyone wants to find a way to continue that work.
What policy(s) or changes in style would you bring to the Ontario Liberal Party that differ from the current government (if any?)
The most important message we can send Ontario is that we are ready to work together. I will focus on starting conversations inside and outside of government so that we can work toward finding solutions for our shared priorities. In my previous roles as Minister of Education, Transportation, Aboriginal Affairs, and Municipal Affairs and Housing, I’ve built strong relationships with stakeholders, working closely with elected officials, municipal staff, and residents across the province.
I believe we need to foster healthy debate that can be channeled into good policy. I want discussion. I think that’s healthy. Likewise, I would like to see more opportunities for debate within caucus, and in our party.
It is said that the Ontario Liberal Party has become increasingly an urban party. Is there anything you would or could do to make the party more attractive to rural Ontario?
This is an important question – it’s important because people tell me there’s no middle ground left in politics. That people are polarized, divided – that if they live in a city, they can’t possibly understand the suburbs, or care about rural communities, or the north. I believe that kind of political discourse underestimates the people of this province. I don’t believe that Ontarians want to talk about the things that divide us, they want to talk about finding solutions.
I have been to virtually every corner of this amazing province more than once, and helped find solutions with mayors, municipal leaders, and community leaders in both rural and urban Ontario. Every region and every community needs tailored solutions to the challenges we face. For example, just last week I was in Northern Ontario and announced policy commitments developed as by listening to and working directly with northerners: reviewing the Northern growth plan, partnering with northern industry to help create jobs for students and youth, and convening a Northern Ontario cabinet committee.
You face a minority legislature very hostile to your government right now. Is there anything specific you would do to try and work with one or both parties?
I will work with our partners in government, outside of government, and with the members of the opposition. I believe there is common ground and that the people of Ontario want all parties to work together to find solutions.