An emotional Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne acknowledged not only that the election is lost, but that she won’t be premier after June 7 and encouraged voters to ensure an NDP or PC minority government, on Saturday.
“It’s not going to be a Liberal government,” she told reporters in Toronto. “There is a strong appetite for change, for a change in government. And that’s what we’re dealing with.”
On the verge of tears, the premier said that the Liberals wouldn’t be able to form the government after the election and that she wasn’t going to pretend it wasn’t hard.
“I believed we had a good shot at this … I stand by the plan we put forward,” she said. The worry for the party is that the Liberals could lose official party status, with some polls suggesting the Liberals could win fewer than the required eight seats.
Wynne said she made Saturday’s announcement because it would free up voters to think strategically, riding by riding. When asked who was the better choice for Ontarians, she wouldn’t endorse either of her main opponents, NDP leader Andrea Horwath or PC leader Doug Ford.
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“That’s going to sort itself out — people are going to make that decision … it’s going to be one or the other and let’s make sure there are enough Liberals there that there isn’t a blank cheque — that there’s a check on a majority government.”
In reaction to Wynne’s statements, Horwath urged people not to vote for the Liberals, saying it won’t lead to a minority government but to a Progressive Conservative majority.
“Her request today for a minority government is a demand that she be allowed to continue to hold the power at Queen’s Park – something voters have already rejected,” Horwath said in a statement.“Now, a vote for Kathleen Wynne and a vote for Doug Ford mean the same thing. Let’s not go from bad to worse.”
PC leader Ford had little to say in reaction to Wynne’s statement and only said this election was about change and people are fed up.
“It’s hard because I know there are Liberals who believe in us,” she said. “Some of them are going to be mad and saying ‘Kathleen, why are you doing this? Why are you saying this?'”
Despite feeling that she “did really well in the debate” she admitted, “that wasn’t going to turn the tide.” The premier said she will continue to run in her riding of Don Valley West, but wouldn’t say whether she’d stay on as party leader following Thursday’s vote. Wynne also said she’d still be on the campaign trail advocating for candidates in local elections “through until that last vote is cast.”
Recent polling has shown that her popularity has plummeted in the past several weeks, which has made the election a neck-and-neck race between Horwath and Ford.
Wynne’s full statement:
“We’re in the homestretch of this election campaign and I just wanted to say a few words about what lies ahead and my perspective on the decision left to voters.
On June 7th voters will elect a new government. I don’t know who voters will choose but I am pretty sure that it won’t be me. After Thursday, I will no longer be Ontario’s Premier. And I’m okay with that.
Because, as I’ve said many times before — it’s not about me. It’s about the people of this province. It’s about their well-being. And their futures. It’s about their jobs. Not my job.
As Premier, I’ve tried to dedicate myself to fighting for those people. For the single mother struggling to raise a family while living on the minimum wage. For the student who’s earned the grades to go to university — but whose family hasn’t earned quite enough to cover tuition. For the dad in the 905 who has to drive for an hour stuck in traffic each day, both ways – for whom expanded GO train service makes all the difference. For the adult daughter who does all she can to care for her aging parents while she also scrambles to find safe, affordable child care for her own toddler. And for the countless other families working hard, contributing so much to our communities and counting on government to make their lives just a little bit easier, their load just a little bit lighter, their futures just a little bit brighter.
Here in Ontario, we live in the best place in the world. I love this Province. I love its people. And even if I won’t be leading this province as Premier, I care deeply about how it will be led. After a few weeks on the campaign trail, and with just a few days before people cast their votes, here’s my take on where we’re at:
People want change but, by and large, they are confident about where Ontario stands and where Ontario’s headed. For this reason, many voters are worried about handing a blank cheque to either Doug Ford or the NDP.
With a majority government, Doug Ford would have too free a hand for the comfort of most people — they don’t trust his judgment. They don’t trust the choices he would make. This is a man who was only too happy to open up the Greenbelt to condo development until he was caught out. Who mused about selling cannabis in corner stores — where our kids shop. This is a man who has promised to cut $40 billion out of government services and pretends it can be done without costing a single job or harming our hospitals or our schools. This is a man who has defended candidates who speak ill of others – who smear people because of their religion or gender or sexual orientation. I don’t believe this is a man that people want to hand Ontario over to without putting him on the shortest of short leashes.
And the sentiment toward the NDP is much the same. People worry about what will happen to our economy if the NDP take power and form a majority government with nothing to hold them back. People worry that the NDP will raise taxes on small businesses, that they will take unemployment higher and job creation lower. They will permit strikes to carry on — like they have at York University — even after all hope of a negotiated settlement has been exhausted. People worry that the NDP will approach the responsibility of running Ontario’s economy with a plan that is risky and unrealistic.
So, it comes down to this — voters are going to pick a new premier but they are generally worried about giving that person — whether it’s Doug Ford or the NDP — too much power. They’re worried about giving them too much of a free hand because they’re concerned about what that might mean for our economy and our future.
And that’s why a vote for the Liberal Party can mean so much. The more Liberal MPPs we send to Queen’s Park on June 7th, the less likely it becomes that either Doug Ford or the NDP will be able to form a majority government. By voting Liberal you can keep the next government, Conservative or NDP, from acting too extreme — one way or the other. By voting Liberal you can keep the next government, Conservative or NDP, accountable to you. By voting Liberal you can keep Doug Ford — and the NDP, from having a blank cheque.
So, with a few days left, my message is this: a vote for the Liberal Party is a vote to keep the next government in check. A vote for the Liberal Party is your best bet to make sure that the next government is not a majority government. And that the next government is held to account to all voters.
So, for the next few days I will campaign hard to elect as many Liberals as possible. We will fight for our values – for a practical approach and for a government that will be kept from extremes and forced toward a better balance for the people of this province. We have a terrific team of local candidates, they deserve your support. They will fight for your votes. And I will fight for them.