Dalton McGuinty wins 85 per cent leadership endorsement from party

OTTAWA – Ontario’s Liberals are keeping Premier Dalton McGuinty as their leader, despite a disappointing result in last year’s election.

The premier received an endorsement from 85.8 per cent of delegates who voted in a leadership review at the party’s convention Ottawa.

McGuinty, whose government was downgraded to a minority last October, failed to win the one seat he needed for a majority in two recent byelections.

The Liberals hung on to their seat in Vaughan, but came in third in Kitchener-Waterloo, which went to the New Democrats for the first time in their history.

McGuinty has also alienated much of the Liberals’ base of support by going after the salaries of public sector workers to balance the books.

Unions representing most of the teachers and education workers in the province are at war with McGuinty after helping him get re-elected over the past nine years.

They’re angry over a new law that will cut their benefits and restrict wages, as well as give the government the power to stop strikes and lockouts.

About 100 demonstrators from teachers’ unions picketed outside the Ottawa hotel and convention centre where the Liberals were holding their annual general meeting.

Many wore T-shirts with McGuinty’s picture, quoting his oft-repeated statement that his government will respect the collective bargaining process.

Public servants, nurses and other workers have also joined the fight over proposed legislation that could potentially impose new collective agreements and restrict their right to strike.

McGuinty has said he doesn’t plan on going anywhere and will lead his party into the next election.

He’s been Liberal leader since 1996 and has served as premier for nine years.