Wynne poised to become premier. Next up? Reality

Kathleen Wynne is almost certain to become Ontario’s next premier. She will be the first woman to hold the position, as well as Canada’s first openly gay premier. With Gerard Kennedy’s and Charles Sousa’s endorsements, the only question left at the Ontario Liberal convention is: will Wynne’s victory speech air before the hockey game, or during it?

Tonight, Wynne’s victory will be sweet.

Tomorrow she will have to let go of optimistic rhetoric and face reality.

The Liberals are polling in third place provincially. Just today, thousands of teachers and union representatives took to the streets in protest of Bill 115 (for which Wynne voted) and what they characterize as the undemocratic legacy left to Ontario’s Liberals by Dalton McGuinty. Tomorrow, Wynne will have to answer to that legacy. She may say her leadership ushers in a new beginning, but the unions are much less likely to take her at her word than the adoring crowds of large-L Liberals that have surrounded her on the campaign trail.

If one thing differentiated the campaigns of Kathleen Wynne and her main rival Sandra Pupatello, it is that Wynne was running one race: the race to become Premier. Pupatello was running in two: the race for Premier and the race for Leader of the Opposition. While some have found her combative rhetoric abrasive, especially in contrast to the overwhelming optimism exuded by her fellow candidate, the Pupatello approach had some long-term merit. The next premier will lead a minority government and a party that’s more despised by its small-l liberal base than ever before, there is a very good chance Wynne will be leading an opposition party before long.

Tonight though Wynne is poised to make history. Tonight she should bask in the lights, dance with her campaign team and savour the taste of victory because tomorrow, she could very well be eating crow.