By Briar Hopley with files from Laura Booth
There are seven candidates vying to be Ontario’s next Liberal leader and acting premier.
The deadline was 5 p.m. Friday.
Minister of Government Services Hariner Takhar resigned his post Thursday night to be the seventh contender in the contest to become the new premier of Ontario.
“It’s going to be a very close race,” George Hawtin, a former Liberal riding association president, and Queen’s Park expert, told Humber News.
“The dominant narrative that it’s going to come down to maybe, Sandra Pupatello on the right and Kathleen Wynne on the left could certainly prove to be true,” Hawtin told Humber News.
“I think we’ve seen a lot of other provinces elect female premiers lately and have great success and I think either of those could do it,” he added.
Whoever takes on the new role as premier will have a lot of challenges ahead.
“It really doesn’t matter who succeeds McGuinty,” New Democrat Cheri DiNovo told CBC News. “They’re going to have to answer for the movement of the gas plants. They’re going to have to answer for the sorry state of our economy and the lack of jobs.”
Despite the challenges that face the new party, University of Toronto political science professor Nelson Wiseman said essentially any publicity is good publicity.
“People are going to be talking about the new premier and this leadership and generally that boosts a party in the polls.”
However, Wiseman doesn’t expect the Liberals to find themselves first in the polls anytime soon.
“I expect, if the Liberals do evolve into first place, whoever the new premier is will call an election right away because they’ll want to capitalize on it,” he said
The race was sparked when Premier Dalton McGuinty announced his resignation as premier Oct. 15 after nine years as premier and 22 years with the party. Following his announcement he prorogued the legislauret until a new leader is selected.
The leadership convention is to be held at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto from Jan. 25-26.