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Blogging conference call with Kathleen Wynne – Ontario Liberal Leadership hopeful.

In the last week, Kathleen Wynne’s campaign team sent out inquiries to several Liberal bloggers (up to 15 I believe) asking us if we’d like to participate in a Liberal blogger conference call with them, to ask questions of Ms. Wynne and to hear some of her pitches (that wins her a gold star from me that she and her campaign came to us bloggers to ask us if we’d like to participate/ask her questions).

In the end, several of us were on the call. She briefly went over her press release of her proposals for Ontario Liberal Party renewal (we all got the PDF for it; I’ll post it at the bottom). and we all got to ask her any questions we wished. I tried to jot down some of the replies she gave me and to others. These are my interpretations of what was said, so if others on the call or Ms Wynne’s team feel I was in error, feel free to say so (No doubt you’ll see some other Liberal bloggers post their thoughts). It was a 45 minute call, and lots of questions got asked and answered.

Below are some of my impressions/what I heard on the call:

I started off and asked two questions about the Convention. First off, what she thought of moving from a Delegate-style convention to something more akin to what other parties were doing – i.e a form of “one member, one vote”. Secondly, if she was in the running late in the expected multiple ballot race, what she would say to delegates of other candidates who had dropped off the ballot and were looking to support someone.

- Per the Convention and its delegate setup: She said that the current setup is pretty complex, so a look to going to a different format such as OMOV should be considered. She didn’t go into specifics as to what she’d like to see, but she seemed open to looking at changing the format (Another blogger followed up on this question asking if she would consider a primary system as the Federal Liberals were doing. She said she was not sure if they should follow the federal Liberal model, but willing to look for advise on how to reform the current system.

-Per what she would say to other delegates to support her: This was a bit more of a general answer, and my sense was she feels her general message of outreach to all areas of Ontario would appeal to those delegates looking to support someone else, if she is still on the ballot late in the game.

- Per the “too many Toronto candidates issue” and how it’s playing: Her point was that she and others may live in Toronto, but not all of them grew up in Toronto. She was born in a village outside of Toronto, and she interestingly made the point that other candidates were the same – Eric Hoskins from Simcoe Ontario, Gerard Kennedy from Manitoba, etc. For herself, she said her campaign was based on reaching out to all sectors, and she isn’t going to give up on rural Ontario for support or getting their votes.

- Per the environment and specifically the Green Energy Act and windfarms: She supports the Green Energy Act and its goals. On wind farms and process, she said the Liberal government could have done a better job in engaging communities; they left it up to proponents and businesses, and she felt the government should have had a greater role to play. Her main goal as Premier would be a better up-front process so they weren’t in reactive mode. She supports the need to build more renewable energy sources, such as wind farms and solar, but the government needs to look for willing hosts.

- On what she could do, if anything, to prevent situations like the Air Ambulance and OLG arising again: She said she was part of the Cabinet when this occurred, and shares in the responsibility for what happened or didn’t happen, but she felt it is really important how a government responds to the situation. In this vein, she said she supports legislation to put more oversight on Orange/Air Ambulance, specifically, and that bill would be presented in the next legislative session

-Per teachers: She brought up as a followup to the prior question her stance on teachers (probably because she knew she was going to be asked it). She said it was a high priority for her to get that settled and it was extremely important for her that the relationships with teachers was repaired. She said if elected leader/Premier, she would be working with the Education ministry to put a better process in place. She said she is very committed to working with those folks who have been our partners for a long time.

- On whether she’d run on Dalton Mcguinty’s record or running as a “change” candidate: She said she believes what the Liberals have done on the last 9 years, and is proud of the Liberal record in those years. She said she would stand on the Liberals record and the good work she feels they’ve done. So, her candidacy would emphasize the progress of the last nine years and then pitch that she could take it to the next step.

- On what her relationship with Prime Minister Harper would be like (a few guffaws on that question): She said the Ontario government has to have relationships with all types of government, be they municipal,federal or First Nations government. It was not her goal to be confrontational, but there there will be disagreements (i.e the current debate on CPP and pension reform). IF and when such discussions run counter to the federal government, they as a government will have to deal with it.

Lastly, for this blogpost anyhow, she got asked how she as a leader would try to get more younger Liberals or young people in general into the party. She said she wants to create a Premier’s Youth Advisory council. She wants to bring in students as well as non-students, and have a dialogue with them on those issues that concern youth. As for younger Liberal youth in their own party, she said there is a need to talk about encourage young people to talk to the rest of the party about issues that concern them, and not just get shunted into a corner and told to talk about issues on their own and leave the other discussions to the adults in the room. She said one way of encouraging this is to maybe setting up an independent organization – which I took to mean something similar to the Young Liberals of Canada wing in the Federal party.

All in all, a very good Q and A session, and she said she’d like to do it again. I hope so too, and I hope other candidates will consider doing this as well. Below is her aforementioned document on Ontario Liberal Party renewal and what she’d like to see put in place to help with party renewal.

Dec 17 – Kathleen Wynne – OLP Renewal & Reform

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