Ontario Liberal Party leadership hopeful Kathleen Wynne has gained the support of five more ex-officio supporters, including a former MPP from Sudbury, ahead of this weekend’s Ontario Liberal Party leadership convention.
Wynne’s total support from ex-officio delegates has grown to 82, including 10 more endorsements in the past two days.
Ex-officio delegates include former MPPs, party officials and members of the party’s executive. They automatically have the right to vote at the party’s leadership conventions.
Sterling Campbell, who was Sudbury MPP from 1987-1990 during the tenure of former premier David Peterson, said his support for Wynne dates back several years.
“A number of years ago as the communications VP, I was tasked to approach viable candidates to encourage them to run,” Campbell said in a press release from Wynne’s campaign.
“I was given her name by my mother, the former St. George MPP Margaret Campbell. I was impressed by her talent and forthright communication skills. I still follow her excellent contribution to Ontario.”
While Campbell backs Wynne, current Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci is supporting former MPP Sandra Pupatello. Pupatello emerged with a slight lead in delegates after party elections in early January.
Pupatello has slightly more than 27 per cent of delegates, followed by Wynne at 25 per cent and Gerard Kennedy at just more than 13 per cent.
A total of 2,300 delegates will elect the new leader, most of whom are committed to voting for a specific candidate.
After the first ballot, however, elected delegates are free to vote for whomever they want, with the last-place finisher on each ballot automatically dropping out of the race. The party’s leadership convention is set for Jan. 25-27 in Toronto.
The new leader will succeed longtime Premier Dalton McGuinty, who is stepping down after falling just short of a majority in elections last year.
The Liberals are facing a revolt among traditional supports in public sector unions who are angry with legislation that imposed contracts on teachers across the province.
Wynne has said she wants to try and govern as a minority leader if she wins, while Pupatello, who doesn't currently have a seat in the Legislature, is expected to call an election if she wins.