On to second choices at the OLP convention. But first? Group hug

To recap: Hope. Optimism. ... Pick Me.

With the first ballot out of the way, it’s on to second choices at the Ontario Liberal leadership convention in Toronto.

In speeches on Saturday morning, the would-be Liberal leaders wooed both committed supporters and those they hoped to attract after the first results.

Results of the first ballot were as follows:

Sandra Pupatello, 599

Kathleen Wynne, 597

Gerard Kennedy, 281

Harinder Takhar, 234

Charles Sousa, 222

Eric Hoskins, 150.

The candidates delivered speeches with great energy but with very little mention of any policy.

Themes of the day: “Optimism” and “Hope” — two things that only capital “L” leaders possess, at least according to these leadership hopefuls.

The party’s’ message: Look out, Hudak, you’re up against a party that believes in the future … whatever that involves. Group hug!

Harinder Takhar was up first and it was his job to rile up a tired crowd that appeared slow to adapt to convention mentality. (The mentality being that it’s normal to dance for candidates and “Woohooo!!!” when someone mentions “our values,” before even define what they are.) Takhar’s speech launched the two-hour discussion of hope and dreams and feelings that would define most speeches. He did hit specific notes on better jobs for immigrants. He also talked about bringing down the deficit … somehow.

Gerard Kennedy, a veteran of Liberal conventions both provincially and federally, touted optimism and Liberal values. He urged delegates to give as much thought to their second ballot as their first. If he is going to become premier, it will be based on second choices.

Wynne’s speech was energetic and light. She was introduced by delegates dancing to Pink’s “Raise your glass.” While political dancing is normally too embarrassing to consider, Team Wynne danced so hard and so fierce even the most committed Pupatellans couldn’t help but clap. Wynne was also light on policy and focused on optimism and the Liberal family. She was at her best when taking on the question of her “elect-ability.” While many have claimed a gay woman might not be able to win a general election, Wynne pointed out that 50 years ago, every candidate would have had baggage. It’s easy to imagine that a Catholic, an Indo-Canadian, an Portugese-Canadian or a woman can, potentially, take win Ontario’s highest office, so why not a lesbian? The Twitterati responded to her speech with a mix of “That’s so gutsy!” and “Who cares? Stop trading in on your sexuality!!”

Sousa touted the benefits of high-speed rail and investment into the Ring of Fire, but his speech was met with little enthusiasm — even from his own team.

Sandra Pupatello used her introductory video to remind delegates that politics isn’t pretty. So much so that sometimes the only person man enough for the job is a woman — a woman from Windsor. Greatest moment of the convention so far: The slow-motion shot of Pupatello walking through the mean streets of Windsor, wearing a furry coat with a long, glitzy necklace. The speech shifted between optimistic and tough, as Pupatello touted her time in Opposition and strongly stated that the province needs business, labour and government to work together if anyone expects anything to get done. But that video … that video was good enough to be a low-budget music video from 2003. Or an add for General Motors from 2009.

The candidate who would be first to drop off the ballot was the last to speak on Saturday morning.

Eric Hoskins arrived with just six per cent of the delegate support. His video drew on his humanitarian experience and general selflessness. His presentation focused on the importance of rural Ontario, where real families live with real values — unlike those who live in the city, in ridings like his own, St. Paul’s. Hoskins said his lack of delegates allowed him to speak from the heart, away from the “political machinery” of  talking points. He then hit on all the familiar talking points, though that just might have been what was in his heart.

After first-ballot results were announced, Hoskins pledged his support for Wynne.