Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I really hope Kathleen Wynne makes more history for LGBT people on Thursday...

I was in the voting room at the Ontario Liberal leadership convention in January 2013 for the final ballot count which elected Kathleen Wynne.  I had been there as a scrutineer for Sandra Pupatello, the woman Wynne defeated to win the leadership.   

When Kathleen Wynne pulled it off, it was electrifying.  Wynne had easily beaten Pupatello in the ballot box I was charged with scrutineering.  Minutes later, Jack Siegel, the party's chief election official, made it official with the simple statement: "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to say that our party has a new leader and that leader is Kathleen Wynne."  Two other gay men who were also Pupatello scrutineers with me could hardly keep from smiling.  "So cool! An openly gay premier!" one of them remarked. 

I had missed Kathleen Wynne's amazing convention speech earlier that morning as I had been waiting in the hallways with other Pupatello supporters to cheer my candidate's big speech entrance.  My candidate's speech, in which she promised to bring the opposition to its knees, underwhelmed many including myself.  I would only view Wynne's convention speech online hours later after she clinched a decisive victory to take the convention and then it all made perfect sense.

Wynne had achieved an incredible and historic victory: not only did she become the first female premier in Ontario's history, she also became the first out LGBT person to lead a provincial government in Canada's history.  In fact, Wynne is the first LGBT person to lead a state or provincial or national government in North America. 

Wynne has proven her ability to master a tough game and come out on top.   After being sworn in as Ontario's new premier, Wynne tackled tough issues including scandals that she inherited from her predecessor.  She also showed her ability to listen, consult and heal divisions by making peace with teachers and showing that the collective bargaining process can still achieve desired fiscal results for governments.  She has set a progressive and realistic agenda for moving the province forward, arguing the best way to grow Ontario's economy is to invest in people and in infrastructure, not embark on a race to the bottom by cutting public services and lowering wages.

The pink glass ceiling has been broken by this amazing woman through sheer determination and amazing talent. 

Regardless of what happens on Thursday, Wynne has earned her place in history.  But I'd be lying if I didn't say I'd be completely devastated if the province's first woman premier and first out LGBT premier is defeated, particularly by someone as untalented as Tim Hudak.

My initial thoughts about how this election campaign, published on May 2nd, seem to have largely come true.  As a result, I'm quite confident that voters will give Kathleen Wynne a chance to continue to govern.  Should it be a minority, she'll find ways to make it work.  Should it be a majority, Wynne will have lived up to her reputation as an amazing fighter who knows how to win big despite the tough odds.

I hope and pray that Wynne will make even more history on Thursday. 

For nostalgia sake, or for those who have never seen it, I give you the last five minutes of Wynne's amazing speech at the leadership convention which sealed the path on which we now find ourselves.  She asked, "Is Ontario ready for a gay premier?"  We'll find out on Thursday night! 


Ryan Spinney said...

I find it horrible that Wynne is trying to make this into a referundum over being a Lesbian, many GLBT people support the Greens, NDP, and some even the PCs, if they choose to reject Liberal Premier its not a rejection of Lesbianism or female premiers, its simply a rejection of the Liberal Party. To suggest overwise is emotional blackmail.

Matt Guerin said...

Sometimes things like history trump partisan politics. But everyone is free to decide for themselves how they vote and what's most important to them. I have a right to express my desire to see the first woman/LGBT premier not be defeated and it is not emotional blackmail for me to do so. Your partisanship runneth over, I must say.

If your hatred of the Liberals is so great that you would turn down this chance to make history, that's your business.