TORONTO Jan 26 Ontario's Liberals on Saturday
chose a former Cabinet minister to become the province's first
female premier and first openly gay leader of a Canadian
In her acceptance speech as the new provincial Liberal Party
leader, Kathleen Wynne, 59, a former Ontario education minister,
thanked her partner, Jane, for her support during a three-month
campaign. Ontario was one of the first Canadian provinces to
allow same-sex marriage.
Wynne's victory means Canada's four most powerful provinces
will all be led by women. British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec
already have female premiers. Women are also at the helm in the
Atlantic province of Newfoundland and Labrador and in the thinly
populated Arctic territory of Nunavut.
Wynne replaces Dalton McGuinty, who said in October he was
stepping down as party leader and premier amid controversy over
costly cancellations of two natural gas power plants and battles
with teachers over provincial plans to freeze wages.
The center-left Liberals have been in power for nine years
in Ontario, Canada's most populous province and home to most of
Canada's banks and a large part of its manufacturing sector. But
the party lost seats in the 2011 provincial election and needs
support from at least one other party to stay in power.
The left-leaning New Democrats are the natural ally for
Wynne, who has a reputation for seeking compromise and is viewed
as being to the left of other Ontario Liberals.
In her address to the party faithful, she invited leaders
from both opposition parties to work with her to advance the
interests of Ontario communities.
"But make no mistake. If that stops working, I will fight
them for every seat, for every poll, for every vote in the next
election," she said.
Wynne will have her work cut out to hold on to power. The
next election is due in October 2015, but the Liberals lag their
rivals in opinion polls.
The Liberals are facing a C$12 billion ($12 billion) budget
deficit. They have vowed to curb growth in spending, as modest
economic growth hurts revenues, and say it will take five more
years to balance the budget.
Ontario accounts for roughly 40 percent of Canadian gross
domestic product and is among the largest sub-national borrowers
in the world, issuing bonds worth nearly C$35 billion in 2012.