NORM PUTTICK/Straight Talk
Queens Park is closed down and Liberal MPPs are undoubtedly struggling with having to decide who they will support for their new leader ever since Premier Dalton McGuinty has side-stepped the political heat for errors of his own making.
Several of his leading cabinet ministers are also bailing out with the weak excuse of wanting to spend more time with their family.
However, I want to give my view of where leadership of all three parties in Ontario is heading.
First, with McGuinty telling his cabinet ministers to resign if seeking his job end of January 2013, it will be difficult for them to do so and give up the extra $50,000 plus car and driver.
There can only be one leader and if losing their leadership bid what then? Become a backbencher?
I don’t think so.
Ministers Dwight Duncan and Chris Bentley are resigning from politics and will likely leave, in my view, several discredited ministers Deb Matthews in health and Kathleen Wynne in Municipal Affairs as leading contenders from within the now elected.
The former Minister Sandra Pupatello, who resigned from cabinet several years ago, will be the next leader of the Ontario Liberals – if she decides to run.
She has, as she said in a recent interview, “the fire in the belly again.”
This you can believe.
I, while still holding elected office, contacted her many times as deputy Premier and she always replied to my suggestions regarding reforming municipal government.
I recall calling Sandra on her cell, talking away about politics and asking her “Where are you?”
To my amazement she said: “I’m on my honeymoon down east.”
I made a hasty retreat and to this day would support Pupatello for her genuine interest in ordinary people.
So here is my prediction: If Sandra enters the race, she will be crowned Premier. She will call back the legislature and attempt to finalize important laws for Ontario citizens.
The opposition will oppose and Ontario will have an election.
Liberals will win on the rejection by the NDP and PC’s of good laws proposed by Premier Pupatello.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath will form the opposition.
Tim Hudak will ponder his future.
The legislature will have two capable women at the helm to lead Ontario back to jobs and civility in the legislature.
Former Liberal Minister George Smitherman will run as MPP in a Toronto riding and win. He will probably go back in cabinet as health Minister.
He is a bit tainted in Health but very intelligent with this post.
In closing before you are critical of the foregoing seek out an MPP from all parties who has faced Pupatello as former Minister.
They all will tell you she certainly has “fire in the belly” to win and do what is right for all Ontario.
I have not decided if it will be a majority or minority government, but there’s plenty of time for another column.