In news that’s probably not a surprise to anyone in provincial politics, but former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne revealed in a new interview that she will not seek re-election in 2022. After shirking the traditional quite resignation following the overwhelming defeat of her party in 2018, Wynne stayed on as one of seven Liberal MPPs, but her political career will soon officially come to an end.
“Leaders don’t usually stay after losing … but I love being an MPP, I love the work,” Wynne said in an interview with the Toronto Star published Monday.
Wynne, who is notable for being both the first woman and the first openly queer person to ascend to the role of Premier in Ontario, won her riding in Don Valley West in 2018 by four tenths of a per cent over the Progressive Conservative challenger. It was a marginal victory, and far from the decisive 26 points she secured re-election with in 2014, but it was a victory just the same. The way Wynne described it to the Star, she felt like she owed a debt to her riding, and her voters.
“I’m going to stay till 2022. To go early and to put the riding through a byelection doesn’t make sense,” the former Premier said. “They stood by me in a sweep election and I appreciate that.”
Before being elected as the Liberal leader in 2013 and being elevated to the role of Premier, Wynne held four positions in provincial cabinet including Minster of Aboriginal Affairs (now Indigenous Affairs), Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister of Transportation, and Minister of Education. While Wynne was the Education Minister, then-Guelph MPP Liz Sandals served as her parliamentary assistant, and was later appointed as the minister herself when Wynne became premier.
The announcement that Wynne was going to leave politics earned a rare moment of praise for Wynne from her bitter rival in the 2018 election, Premier Doug Ford.
“I want to dedicate a minute to the former premier, Kathleen Wynne,” Ford said in Question Period Tuesday. “Premier, I have the utmost respect for you. We may differ on policies. We may differ on political outlooks. But as a person, I have the utmost respect for you. You’ve walked a mile in my shoes.”
Current Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner also offered praise for Wynne in a separate statement.
“I would like to thank Kathleen for being a courageous trailblazer and a true inspiration for women and the LGBTQ+ community,” Schreiner said. “Her commitment to public service and her constituents is undeniable, and I think as Premier she worked hard to make Ontario a better place. I also want to recognize the positive steps she took for the environment, especially putting a price on climate pollution.”
Wynne told Newstalk 1010 that her future will involve a focus on being a grandmother, but she also acknowledged that the time has also come for new leadership. “By the time the next election comes around I will have been in office for 22 years,” said Wynne who got her political start as a school board trustee in 2000. “I will be 69 and I think that it’s time to pass the torch.”
Photo Credit: Kathleen Wynne meeting at Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis with executive director, and then future Guelph Liberal candidate Sly Castaldi in 2015.