By Kevin Werner
METROLAND WEST MEDIA GROUP
Liberal MPP Kathleen Wynne says if she becomes the new premier, she will recall the Ontario Legislature and find a way to get Ontario “out of the mess” it currently finds itself in.
“I’m running to govern,” said Wynne. “I want to bring the Legislature in as quickly as possible.”
Supported by Hamilton cabinet minister Ted McMeekin during a tour of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market Nov. 20, Wynne, who served as transportation, education, and municipal affairs minister before deciding to run to replace Premier Dalton McGuinty, said its time for a more conciliatory approach to politics.
“We need to reach out across the divides,” said Wynne, 59, MPP for Don Valley West.
She criticized her party’s recent heavy-handed approach against teachers, saying there is a more productive way to negotiate with public sector workers.
“What’s the process to allow us to rebuild those relationships? My preference is always to have a bargained collective agreement,” said Wynne.
The Liberals pushed through Bill 115 that imposes a contract on teachers and bans strikes or lockouts for two years.
Teachers in some boards, including Hamilton, have started to withdraw their services in opposition to the legislation.
Wynne, though, maintained Ontario must continue to focus on its $14-billion budget deficit, but do it with a lot more care on how it treats its public sector workers.
“We can’t back off from the compensation grid,” said Wynne. “We have to balance the budget, we’ve got to stay on our fiscal plan.”
McMeekin, who was Wynne’s parliamentary assistant when she was education minister, said that of all the other candidates running to replace McGuinty, Wynne remains the party’s best hope for leading the Liberals forward.
“She shares the same values I have,” said McMeekin. “She recognizes the importance of working together. In a nutshell, she gets it.”
Other Hamilton area Liberals also threw their support behind Wynne, including Javid Mirza, a former provincial Liberal candidate, and Vito Sgro, president of the Hamilton East-Stoney Creek federal Liberal riding association.
Wynne was first elected MPP in 2003.
The deadline for candidates to seek the leadership is Nov. 23. The Liberals will choose their next leader in Toronto Jan. 25 to 27.