Monday, January 14, 2013

Busy weekend of Liberal leadership voting; the wacky Glen Murray...

Like hundreds of Liberals, I put my name on the ballot this past weekend to become a delegate to the Ontario Liberal leadership convention later this month. Across the province, I'm very glad to say my candidate, Sandra Pupatello, won the most delegates with 504 elected, just ahead of Kathleen Wynne who has 463.

In Toronto Centre where I ran, a downtown progressive riding if there ever was one, Wynne came out on top with 9 delegates, Pupatello with 3 (not including myself unfortunately), Gerard Kennedy with 2, Eric Hoskins with 1 and 1 independent. I want to congratulate all the winners in my riding, all of those across the province who won in their ridings, and of course to everyone who stepped up and put their names on the ballot at all. It was a fun weekend getting a chance to see so many people I haven't seen in years.

I only moved back to Toronto Centre this past summer after four years in Davenport, where I wasn't very active at all with the Liberals. That absence probably had much to do with my not garnering enough votes to win. In truth, I would've been shocked had I won a spot.

I do wish the Ontario Liberals had found the time between 1996 and 2012 at one of their many schmooze fests/provincial conventions to amend their leadership rules to bring them into the 21st century. The delegated convention system of electing leaders is archaic. It excludes grassroots members from taking part directly in the final decision. Instead, it embraces a system of elites going to represent their ridings who then get schmoozed shamelessly on one weekend before making a final decision that is greatly swayed by the powers-that-be running the various campaigns. Such high-powered manipulation has produced strange results in the past (Stephane Dion winning in Montreal in 2006, Peter MacKay in 2003). The federal Liberals have thankfully evolved for their leadership race, even opening the door to supporters who get a vote simply by signing up and giving their email accounts (although it remains to be seen if these "supporters" will be charged some kind of fee for casting a ballot in April 2013.)

But nevertheless, this is the system the Ontario Liberals have and it should be interesting to see how it all goes down on January 26. Decisions by candidates dropping off the ballot will be crucial. But it's great to have two such exceptional women as the frontrunners. I'll be rooting for Pupatello. But if Wynne pulls it off, I'll be excited as well. I would be quite disappointed if Kennedy or, God helps us, Harinder Takhar emerges victorious.

One last note - I saw Glen Murray at the leadership election meeting yesterday in Toronto Centre. I don't know Glen personally having been out of the riding for a few years (I've never actually voted for him.) His wacky Twitter comments in the past, as well as his relatively shallow Ontario roots led me to disregard his candidacy for the leadership. His strange exit from the race last week simply confirmed many suspicions. Instead of facing what would no doubt have been a clobbering across the province this past weekend, Murray pulled out of the race last week and endorsed rival candidate and fellow gay urbanite Kathleen Wynne. But in doing so, he completely screwed over his own supporters who had put their names forth as delegate nominees in support of him. With Murray's exit, those nominees became "independent" and could only get elected if members voted "Independent" in the leadership. In Toronto Centre, only 1 such delegate got elected yesterday. Incidentally, that delegate told me before the vote that he was planning to support Sandra Pupatello if elected.

So we have a strange man for MPP in Toronto Centre who fancied himself a premier of Ontario after living here for only a handful of years. He's still accomplished much in his life and brings much good to the table. Some of his ideas on the taxation front as well as tuition were interesting. Murray will be hoping his endorsed leadership candidate Kathleen Wynne emerges victorious and appoints him to some senior cabinet position as promised. But I'm hoping that Pupatello emerges on top and sends Mr. Murray back to the backbench, which would no doubt do the man with the oversized ego a bit of good.

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