Obviously, I lost the plot a little bit with my earlier attempts to profile all the candidates.
But, with the Ontario Liberal convention upon us (today is what the pros refer to as "convention eve" (not really), I did want to find time to endorse.
This has been a fantastic race. I've been really impressed, and really proud, of the people running. Glen Murray, Eric Hoskins, and Harinder Takhar, as already discussed, brought great ideas - and Takhar showed that he's a serious political force (huge kudos have to go to his impressive campaign manager for delivering big time).
Charles Sousa has established himself as a key voice within the party. His style and attitude have raised him up, and impressed a lot of people.
Gerard Kennedy has definitely, definitely belied the media narrative that he's washed up. Despite having been deep in federal politics for years, he stormed back. He has charisma, ideas, and, obviously, a political organization that was still able to deliver him a third place finish. I want to particularly highlight a really impressive democratic reform platform plank he put out (which on a quick glance I can't find the link to - it may have been emailed to me). He's done a great job of proposing steps that would prove what we so often hear - that he would change how things work in the party. That's not easy to do.
Sandra Pupatello has also proved to be an impressive campaigner. Her team won the most delegates - not an easy feat at all. She's shown she has the charisma that she was expected to bring. She's also successfully branded herself as a "blue" candidate, and garnered the endorsements of the Globe (unsurprising) and the Star (more surprising, even if they seem to have spent the rest of the week trying to make up for it by running column after column endorsing her main rival).
If we Liberals are going to have our best shot at running the government, call me a romantic, but I think we have to run on hope.
Hope that we can return to the House and succeed in moving the agenda forward that Ontarians elected their government to do.
Hope that we can offer solutions, not dogmas.
Hope that those solutions can be practical, real, and in line with our values.
Hope that our new Premier can be rewarded for running a strong, positive campaign.
Hope that our new Premier can be someone who can inspire us to be better.
And it's clear to me that the best person for that job is Kathleen Wynne.
Kathleen has been relentlessly positive, in public and in private, and her team has taken on that identity. She's laid out a clear vision for Ontario, which builds on the incredible successes we've already had. She proposes a Premier, party, and government that can continue to improve and protect our most important legacy - that of world-leading health and education - while actually emphasizing fiscal responsibility. She gets a key Liberal truth; we're prudent to be progressive. We're going to build a better society the only way that works - with compassionate changes to improve the bottom line that don't erode our progress.
I'm also proud that there are real ideas, and real details, behind what she pledges to do. No slogans, nothing like the Conservative/Republican approach of "if you say it enough times, it must be true". She brings a sophistication of thought and of discourse that I find exceptionally refreshing. She delivers on her ideas with charisma that can be best described as "clear". You know what she means, and you know that she means it, and that's something we can, and will, take to all Ontarians.
At least for now, I don't want to dig to deep into the ugliness that's started to seep up in this race (proudly, none from Kathleen) other than to refute. And I'm not going to link to that kind of attack. And I also know Kathleen is ready to take on her real opponents, and hope she's made the right decision to keep he powder dry within the family.
But Kathleen is a winner. Ask John Tory (who I believe is in fact a fan). And she can do it again.
She's "electable" (and you know what that's code for). Every time she's stepped up to the plate lesser people have come at her about it, and she's smilingly knocked the hate thrown at her out of the park.
She will be electable in northern and rural Ontario. She's taken them seriously. They'll take her seriously. And we'll be back.
And she's not a woman to take something like this on unless she meant to beat her opponents. Although she's refrained from trying to beat her fellow Liberals senseless, the NDP and PC parties should be nervous about what's coming for them on Monday morning.
If we find out late Saturday that Kathleen is our next Premier. I think every Liberal is going to be able to support her with pride. And be a part of a unified party that's ready to go.
These races need to be about hope. And people like Kathleen deliver it.