|25th Premier of Ontario|
February 11, 2013
|Lieutenant Governor||David Onley
|Preceded by||Dalton McGuinty|
|Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party|
January 26, 2013
|Preceded by||Dalton McGuinty|
|Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament
for Don Valley West
October 2, 2003
|Preceded by||David Turnbull|
|Born||Kathleen O'Day Wynne
May 21, 1953
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Alma mater||Queen's University
University of Toronto
|Religion||United Church of Canada|
Kathleen O'Day Wynne (born May 21, 1953) is a Canadian politician and the 25th Premier of Ontario. In office since 2013, she is a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, representing the riding of Don Valley West for the Liberal Party. She is the first female premier of Ontario, the first openly gay head of government in Canada and the second openly gay head of government in the English-speaking world, after former governor Jim McGreevey of the US state of New Jersey.
Wynne grew up in Richmond Hill, Ontario. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Queen's University and a Master of Arts degree in linguistics from the University of Toronto. She achieved a Master of Education degree in adult education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (University of Toronto). She was a member of the discipline committee of the Ontario Society of Psychotherapists from 1997 to 2000.
Wynne served as president of the Toronto Institute of Human Relations. In 1996, she helped found Citizens for Local Democracy, which opposed the efforts of Ontario's Progressive Conservative government to amalgamate the City of Toronto. She founded the Metro Parent Network (now the Toronto Parent Network) which supports improvements in the province's public education system, and has participated in numerous other community endeavours.
Prior to her coming out as a lesbian at age 37 she was married to Phil Cowperthwaite, with whom she had three children. She now lives with her second spouse, Jane Rounthwaite, whom Wynne has stated is to be referred to as her "partner" (rather than "wife"). They were married in July 2005 at Fairlawn Avenue United Church in Toronto. Wynne is a member of the United Church of Canada.
Wynne first ran for trustee in 1994 in ward 12 but was defeated by Ann Vanstone. In 2000, she ran again and was elected as a public school trustee in Toronto's ward 8. During the campaign she was labelled an "extremist lesbian" in literature distributed by the "Concerned Citizens of North York and North Toronto". This was the ratepayer group that later supported Karen Stintz in her campaign against local councillor Anne Johnston. Wynne strongly opposed cuts to public education mandated by the Conservative government.
In 2001, Wynne helped pass a measure encouraging public schools to purchase teaching materials reflecting the presence of gay and lesbian parents in modern society. In December 2001, she ran for chair of the school board but was defeated by Donna Cansfield in a 12–10 vote.
Wynne was a co-founder with John Sewell of Citizens for Local Democracy, a grassroots group that opposed the 1999 amalgamation of the Old City of Toronto with the rest of Metropolitan Toronto. She attempted to enter provincial politics on the strength of her grassroots work and sought the Liberal Party nomination in St. Paul's for the 1999 provincial election but was defeated for the party nomination by Michael Bryant by a margin of 328 votes to 143. She was elected to the school board the following year, and in 2003, became the Liberal nominee in Don Valley West and was elected to the Ontario legislature in the 2003 provincial election, defeating Progressive Conservative cabinet minister David Turnbull by over 5,000 votes. The Liberals won the election, and Wynne was appointed parliamentary assistant to Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Mary Anne Chambers, in October 2003. In October 2004, she was appointed parliamentary assistant to Minister of Education Gerard Kennedy.
From June 2005 to November 2005 she served as a member of the Select Committee on Electoral Reform, which recommended "that the referendum be binding upon a vote of 50% + 1, and the support of 50% + 1 in at least two-thirds (i.e., 71) of the ridings or any other formula that ensures the result has support from Northern, rural, and urban areas of the Province," although the cabinet subsequently decided on 100. 
On September 18, 2006, she was promoted to Minister of Education in a cabinet shuffle occasioned by the resignation of Joe Cordiano from the Legislature. She was the province's first openly lesbian cabinet minister, and only the second openly LGBT cabinet minister after Deputy Premier George Smitherman. On January 18, 2010, she was moved to Minister of Transportation and in 2011 she was appointed Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Aboriginal Affairs.
In the 2007 provincial election, Wynne was challenged by the PC leader John Tory. Tory, who was elected to Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey (former PC leader Ernie Eves' riding) in a by-election, was seeking a seat in a Toronto-area riding. Though it was projected to be a close race, Wynne was re-elected with 50.4 percent of the popular vote, defeating Tory who came in second with 39.7 of the popular vote.
|Provincial Government of Dalton McGuinty|
|Cabinet Posts (4)|
|Chris Bentley||Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
|Rick Bartolucci||Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
|Jim Bradley||Minister of Transportation
|Sandra Pupatello||Minister of Education
Premier McGuinty announced on October 15, 2012, that he would resign as leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario and premier of the province once his successor was chosen.
On November 2, 2012, Wynne resigned her cabinet post and three days later launched her bid for the leadership of the party. Wynne was seen as having the strongest on-the-ground organization among the seven candidates, and along with former MPP Sandra Pupatello, and was one of the front runners. She had the most supporters running to be delegates at the convention, with 1,533, and was the only candidate to have supporters in place in all 107 of the province's ridings. Days before members were to begin electing delegates Glen Murray announced he was exiting the leadership race and endorsed Wynne's candidacy. Despite running with the most supporters for delegate positions Wynne placed second, with 468 delegates, behind Pupatello who had 509 delegates. Pupatello was also believed to have the most support among ex officio delegates, which are MPPs, MPs, defeated candidates and other Liberal insiders, and was expected to increase her lead over Wynne on the first ballot at the convention.
At the convention on January 26, 2013, Wynne surprised many with her strong speech to delegates. In the speech she discussed repairing relations with teachers, working with opposition parties, and took aim at her main rival Pupatello, who did not hold a seat, by saying that she was ready to govern and would recall the legislature on February 19. Wynne also addressed her sexuality saying; "When I ran in 2003, I was told that the people of North Toronto and Thorncliffe Park were not ready to elect a gay woman. Well, apparently they were." She went on to say that "I don't believe the people of Ontario judge their leaders on the basis of race, colour or sexual orientation – I don't believe they hold that prejudice in their hearts."
When the first ballot results were announced Wynne received 597 votes, trailing Pupatello by only two votes. Eric Hoskins received the fewest votes of the six candidates and was therefore eliminated. Hoskins threw his support behind Wynne while fourth place candidate Harinder Takhar announced he was endorsing Pupatello. On the second ballot Pupatello's lead grew to 67 votes over Wynne. Takhar, whose name was left on the second ballot, finished last and was eliminated from the race. Gerard Kennedy and Charles Sousa, who finished third and fourth respectively, withdrew from the race and both endorsed Wynne. With the support of both Kennedy and Sousa, her win was all but guaranteed on the third ballot. When the results of that ballot were announced Wynne received 57 per cent of the votes compared to 43 per cent for Pupatello.
Wynne was sworn in as Premier of Ontario on February 11, 2013, becoming the province's first female Premier, and the first premier in Canada to be openly gay. After 4 months prorogation of the legislature, Wynne resumed the house on February 17, 2013.
Gas plant scandal
After being sworn in as Premier, Wynne quickly became embroiled in the Ontario Power Plants Scandal, which had developed under the administration of her predecessor, Premier Dalton McGuinty. Opposition parties accused Wynne of having a role in the McGuinty government's costly decision to cancel the construction of gas plants in Mississauga and North-East Oakville in 2011, when she was co-chair of the Liberal campaign. Wynne denied that she was involved in the gas plant meetings or in the decision to cancel the plants, and asked the Auditor General to investigate the cost of canceling the plants. After months of investigation, the Auditor General released their report on the gas plants in October 2013, suggesting the cancellation of both gas plants could cost taxpayers as much as $1.1 billion. After the report was released by the Auditor General, Wynne admitted the gas plant relocations "shouldn't have happened". She apologized, vowing to ensure that "this doesn't happen again."
In February 2013, the legislative committee that had been investigating the gas plants cancellation prior to McGuinty's resignation and prorogation of the legislature in October resumed its work. Wynne called for the release of all documents related to the decision to the legislature's Justice Committee, and agreed to testify before the committee, while continuing to deny that she was involved in the decision to cancel the plants. Appearing before the committee in April 2013, Wynne testified she had had no role in the decision to cancel the plants, and had learned of the decision to cancel the plants through media reports.
In June 2013, opposition parties called on the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to open an investigation into new allegations that staffers in Premier McGuinty's office had deleted emails regarding the gas plants. On June 7, the OPP launched a criminal investigation into the deletion of the emails, after the Privacy Commissioner ruled that the gas plant emails were illegally deleted. In April 2014, OPP investigators stated that there was no evidence that the premier had been involved in the deletion of emails related to the gas plants, and that the Premier was not the subject of their investigation, which was instead focused on staffers and bureaucrats who had worked in Premier McGuinty's office.
On March 24, 2014, Wynne introduced a piece of legislation called the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, which implemented a wide range of new measures designed to increase government accountability and transparency. Among other things, the act required all MPP's, cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants, opposition leaders, and their respective staff to post their expense reports online, expanded the powers of the Integrity Commissioner and Ontario Ombudsman, and introduced a fine of $5,000 for the willful destruction of government records. While Wynne declined to characterize the act as a rebuke to McGuinty and those who had been involved in deletion of gas plant-related emails, the act was widely seen as a response to the gas plants controversy and other controversies over government officials' and public sector employees' expenses.
In April 2014, Wynne launched a libel lawsuit against PC member Lisa MacLeod and Party Leader Hudak after they said that she "oversaw and possibly ordered the criminal destruction of [gas plant] documents." In July 2015, Wynne, MacLeod and Hudak reached an agreement whereby the lawsuit was dropped. They said in a joint statement, "Politics is not for the thin-skinned. However, our system also requires that politicians act honestly and based on fact, while respecting the views of others... In the lead-up to the last election the debate went beyond differences over our approach and at times became personal. The lawsuit between us, and the comments that led to it, did not reflect our view that the other is in fact a great mother/father, an honourable person and a dedicated public servant." The statement avoided any apology or placement of blame.
On March 21, 2013, Wynne introduced her government's first budget with measures that including a $295 million investment into a Youth Jobs Strategy to help tackle high youth unemployment rate, reducing auto insurance rates by 15 per cent saving motorists $225 a year, $260 million investment to boost home care health services for 46,000 seniors, $45 million investment into an Ontario Music Fund to help Ontario musicians, a $200 a month earnings exemption for those on Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program, $5 million into First Nations education, elimination of the employers health tax exemption for large companies, postponed tax cuts for big businesses, extended the capital cost allowance for machinery and equipment, increased the Ontario Child Benefit from $1,100 to $1,310 a year to support low-income families and other economic measures.
Critics called the budget a lavish expenditure in order to gain NDP support for the budget. PC leader Tim Hudak had earlier said that he would not support the budget regardless of its contents. He said, "the sooner there’s a change in government, the better it is to give hope to people in the province who have lost hope." On June 11, 2013, the budget passed by a vote of 64-36 with NDP support and all 36 PC members voting against it.
Wynne immediately started new collective bargaining negotiations with the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) after a year of labour distress that had culminated in the Putting Students First Act, 2012, which had suspended collective bargaining rights, imposed contracts on teachers and suspended the right to strike.
On April 8, 2014, the Wynne government reached a new bargaining agreement with the teachers unions and passed the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014, which restored their bargaining rights, the right to strike, kept the wage freeze on teachers, eliminated the retirement gratuity for teachers that resulted in savings of $1 billion, and gave the province control over funding for schools and programs. The legislation also gave the Minister of Education the power to audit School Boards if disclosure of spending is not provided. This marked the first time in Ontario's history that each of the parties involved in teachers' negotiations had a defined role, which was seen as an improvement on the ad hoc nature of collective bargaining rounds in the past.
Wynne established the Premier's Youth Advisory Council to share ideas, advise the Premier on issues facing youth, and improve job opportunities for young people. She has also stated that she would like to advance more LGBT related issues, especially in the publicly funded Catholic school system, where there have been issues with accommodation in the past.
In February 2015, her government introduced changes to the sex education curriculum, which has not been updated since 1998, in public schools. However, these changes were met with controversy and criticism not only by the opposition parties but among parents and conservatives; in one instance, some schools were empty as some parents pulled their children out in protest of these changes.
Wynne inherited an economy that had seen years of sluggish growth, as Ontario was particularly hard hit by the late 2000s recession. While her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, had spent his final years in office running on a message of austerity, Wynne pivoted towards the language of growth and investment.
On January 30, 2014, Wynne announced her government was increasing the minimum wage from $10.25 to $11 after four years of freeze on the rate and introduced legislation to ensure future increases to the minimum wage to keep up with the CPI (Consumer Price Index). Wynne also announced a partnership with Cisco Canada that would create 1,700 new jobs. Prior to these announcements, Wynne had announced tax relief for small businesses by increasing the employers health tax exemption from $400,000 to $450,000.
Between late October and early November 2014, Wynne went on a trade mission to China along with other provincial premiers. Subsequently, the trade mission attracted approximately a billion dollars worth of investment and 1,800 new jobs to Ontario.
After Honda announced plans to invest $857 million in 3 plants, Wynne also announced that her government would invest 10 percent of the total invested by Honda.
By the end of 2015, the unemployment rate in Ontario had become lower than the national average. The Conference Board of Canada also found that Ontario's economy had the second strongest growth rate of all provinces in 2015, and was projected to be in the top 3 for 2016.
Throughout the spring of 2014, there was widespread speculation that a general election would be triggered upon the presentation of the 2014-15 provincial budget, due to recent gains in by-elections by the Ontario NDP, whose support was required for the Liberal government's budget to pass. On May 1, 2014, the Wynne government handed down its budget, which was described as "NDP-friendly" by many pundits. One Queen's Park columnist called the budget, "the most progressive one this province has seen since [former NDP leader] Bob Rae was Premier."  In it, the Liberals projected a $12.5 billion deficit for the 2014-15 fiscal year, while remaining on track to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18. The budget was quite sprawling in content: wage increases for home care and child care workers were announced, a $29 billion transportation plan to fund roads, bridges, and transit around the province, an Ontario Registered Pension Plan, which would act as a supplement to the Canada Pension Plan, higher taxes on high income earners, and increased fees for cigarettes and airplane fuel, among others.
The budget was contingent on NDP support, as the PCs had already indicated that they would vote against it. While NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, had, during the last two budget negotiations in 2012 and 2013, spent some time reviewing the budget and talking to her supporters before revealing how her party would vote, this time she almost immediately announced the NDP would not support the budget, thus sending the province into a general election. The day after the budget was read, Wynne went to the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislature and trigger an election, rather than wait for her budget to be voted down on the floor of the Legislature. The timing of the election was peculiar, in that past provincial elections in Ontario were called on a Wednesday and then held four weeks later on a Thursday. However, because Horwath announced on a Friday that she would not be supporting Wynne's budget, the writs were officially dropped on the following Wednesday and the election would not be for five weeks because of a Jewish holiday on the fourth Thursday. The election was called for Thursday, June 12, 2014, resulting in a longer campaign than in the past.
While pundits had predicted the Ontario election to be a wild card three-way race between the Liberals, PCs and NDP, the first two weeks of the campaign saw the polls stabilize into a narrow two-party race between Wynne's Liberals and Tim Hudak's PCs, with the NDP falling into a distant third. The first public poll of the campaign, conducted by Forum Research, showed the PCs ahead in the popular vote, but the Liberals likely on track to retain a minority government. During the first weeks of the campaign, certain factors helped Wynne: Tim Hudak announced at a country club in Barrie that he would fire 100,000 public sector workers if he were to become Premier, and the NDP began the election somewhat flat-footed, without a campaign slogan and dogged by lingering dissatisfaction among many of its rank-and-file members for its decision to reject the Liberals' left-leaning budget.
Wynne ran a fairly controversy-free campaign, although her performance in the televised leaders' debate on June 3 was criticized by pundits as being weak and she was on the defensive for many of the scandals that had plagued her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty. The NDP's slow start and public internal rift over the party's decision to reject Wynne's budget coupled with the unpopularity of Hudak's 100,000 job cut pledge helped Wynne throughout the campaign. She began to eat away at the NDP's traditional left-wing support, especially in and around Toronto, and the controversies over some of Hudak's economic policies hurt him among centrist voters across the province. Furthermore, Wynne ran hard near the end of the campaign on the premise that in a close election, the Liberals were the only party who were in a position to defeat the PCs. The Liberals ran ads in the final weeks of the campaign warning voters that a vote for the NDP would be a vote for the PCs as it would further divide the anti-Hudak vote (who was quite unpopular among a broad swath of Ontario voters). This tactic was similar to what the federal Liberals were successful at doing during the 2004 federal election, where the party pushed hard for strategic voting to stop the federal Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper. In fact, many of the top campaign operatives during Wynne's election worked on the 2004 federal Liberal campaign.
Wynne's Liberals were only endorsed by one major newspaper, the Toronto Star, while most other news organizations endorsed the Hudak PCs. There was controversy that emerged regarding the Globe and Mail's election endorsement. According to an online leak, a majority of the members of the editorial board were prepared to endorse the Liberals, but were overruled by upper management. There was also controversy surrounding a cartoon in the Sun newspapers during the final week of the campaign that showed a pair of broken glasses, presumably Wynne's, smashed on the ground with a smattering of blood. The cartoon received near universal condemnation for projecting the image that abusing women was somehow accepted in society. Nevertheless, in the final week of the campaign, Wynne led most public opinion polls, some of which projected a majority Liberal government on June 12, though notably the final polls of the campaign predicted different results. One pollster, Ipsos Reid, still projected on the final day of the campaign that the PCs were ahead among likely voters, and that the NDP and Liberals were tied at around 30%.
|Party||2011||Gain from (loss to)||2014|
On election day, Wynne's Liberals led province-wide all night as they captured a fourth term in office, and moved from minority to majority government. However, the election results proved to be mixed:
- The Liberals only lost 2 seats that they had held at dissolution, Teresa Piruzza in Windsor West and the open seat in Sudbury, but captured 10 seats from the PCs and NDP, all of them in and around the Golden Horseshoe.
- They managed to capitalize on the NDP's drift away from their left flank under Horwath's leadership by winning long-held NDP seats in Toronto, but the NDP managed to hold on to the seats they had previously gained in byelections, while also taking two seats from the PCs. The Liberals also won 7 PC seats in the GTHA, including ridings like Durham, Cambridge and Burlington that had been held by the PCs for decades.
- Voter turnout also increased to 52.1%—the first increase in decades—but it was the failure of the PCs to increase their vote count (while all other major parties saw theirs increase) that proved to be the key factor in the outcome.
- The party was quite successful at turning out Liberal voters in competitive ridings, especially in the GTA, Ottawa, and Midwestern Ontario. Wynne herself was re-elected handily in her North Toronto riding of Don Valley West.
It was observed after the election, that her sexual orientation was treated as a complete non-issue during the campaign with Wynne subject to no significant comment because of that personal detail. On July 2, Wynne re-convened the Ontario Legislature to pass the budget that had been introduced, but not voted on, prior to the writs being dropped for the election.
Kathleen Wynne, under the advice of Ed Clark, partially privatized Hydro One and reformed the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario's Liquor Licence Act to sell six-packs of beer in Ontario grocery stores, the latter of which was the result of a Toronto Star exclusive on the anti-competitive practices made by the privately-owned Beer Store.
Wynne also put transit expansion front and centre in the budget. On April 21, 2015, Wynne announced that the provincial government would foot the entire bill for the construction of the Hurontario-Main LRT in the Peel Region, to connect Mississauga with Brampton, a major infrastructure project in one of the fastest growing regions of the province.
On May 26, 2015, Wynne announced that the provincial government would fund 100% of the costs to build a LRT system in Hamilton. Wynne announced that $1 billion would be allocated for the project, with construction slated to get underway in 2019. Wynne also announced the extension of the Lakeshore GO Line from downtown Hamilton to a new station at Centennial Parkway in Stoney Creek.
The 2016 budget projected $133.9 billion in spending resulting in a deficit of $4.3 billion for 2016-17, with a return to a balanced budget in 2017-18. The province unveiled its climate change plan, which will see a phased-in cap-and-trade plan that will be similar to schemes in California and Quebec. As a result, gasoline prices will increase 4.3 cents per litre in 2017; natural gas rates are to rise 3.3 cents per cubic metre. In education, the provincial government announced it will provide free college/university tuition for students from families with an annual household income less than $50,000.
The province's current debt is $296.1 billion expected to rise to $350 billion by 2020-21.
|Provincial Government of Kathleen Wynne|
|Cabinet Posts (3)|
|Dalton McGuinty||Premier of Ontario
|Laurel Broten||Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
|Ted McMeekin||Minister of Agriculture and Food
|Ontario general election, 2014|
|Progressive Conservative||David Porter||14,082||30.63||+0.03|
|New Democratic||Khalid Ahmed||3,569||7.76||-0.88|
|Vegan Environmental||Rosemary Waigh||116||0.25||-0.01|
|Total valid votes||45,980||100.0|
|Source: Elections Ontario|
|Ontario general election, 2011|
|Progressive Conservative||Andrea Mandel-Campbell||12,827||30.60||-9.08|
|New Democratic||Khalid Ahmed||3,621||8.64||+3.97|
|Independent (Vegan Environmental Party)||Rosemary Waigh||108||0.26|
|Total valid votes||41,917||100.00|
|Source: Elections Ontario.|
|Ontario general election, 2007|
|Progressive Conservative||John Tory||18,156||39.68||+0.72|
|New Democratic||Mike Kenny||2,138||4.67||-1.02|
|Family Coalition||Daniel Kidd||183||0.40|
|Total valid votes||45,759||100.00|
|Source: Elections Ontario.|
|Ontario general election, 2003|
|Progressive Conservative||David Turnbull||17,394||38.95||-11.57|
|New Democratic||Ali Naqvi||2,540||5.69||+1.00|
|Total valid votes||44,661||100.00|
|Liberal gain from Progressive Conservative||Swing||+10.27|
|Source: Elections Ontario.|
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