Ontario Liberal leadership candidate profile: Gerard Kennedy
By Kaite Boivin and Stephen Donkers
Kennedy is hoping his long career in both federal and provincial politics will land him the top job as Premier of Ontario.
Kennedy is one of seven candidates vying for the premier position after Dalton McGuinty announced his resignation last fall.
Kennedy born July 24, 1960 in The Pas, Manitoba is one of six children to parents Jack and Caroline.
In 1977, after attending high school in Winnipeg, he came to Ontario to attend Trent University in Peterborough on a hockey scholarship.
The program was cancelled in 1978 leading Kennedy to head West to the University of Alberta before eventually dropping out in his fourth year.
While in Alberta Kennedy got involved with the local food bank in Edmonton, taking an executive director position from 1983-1986.
He returned to Ontario to continue his work in the non-profit sector at the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto, where he remained for the next ten years.
He entered politics as an MPP in 1996 winning the York South riding, with 39.3 per cent of the vote.
Later in 1996, he ran for the Ontario Liberal Leadership, narrowly losing to Ottawa-South MPP Dalton McGunity. But was given the Health Critic position in the Liberal opposition.
After the 1999 election, Kennedy ran for MPP for the Parkdale-High Park riding winning 54.9 per cent, and switching roles from Health Critic to Education Critic.
Re-elected as MPP for Parkdale-High Park in 2003, Kennedy became the Education Minister in the McGuinty government before resigning in 2006 to run in the Federal Liberal Leadership race.
Kennedy pulled his name from the ballot and endorsed Stéphane Dion, who went on to become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Late in 2006 Dion chose Kennedy as his special adviser on election readiness and renewal with his duties ending in 2007.
Kennedy came back into politics during the 2008 election defeating incumbent NDP MP, Peggy Nash. He held the seat as MP for Parkdale-High Park until 2011 when Nash reclaimed her past position.
In 2012 after Dalton McGuinty announced he was stepping down as Premier once a new leader for the Ontario Grits is elected, Kennedy decided to pursue the job he once wanted over fifteen years ago.
Blake Lambert, a Humber College Liberal Arts and Sciences professor, told Humber News that although Kennedy has had a long political career, the chances of him winning the leadership race are slim.
“Tending no, possibly yes. The odds are he won’t win,” he said.
Lambert also said whoever is elected premier, the minority Grits will have trouble winning back voters in a possible spring election.
“The Liberals are in deep problems in Ontario,” he said. “They are going through a similar crisis like the Federal Liberals – ‘What are we?’ That’s the question.”
Regardless of whether Kennedy becomes premier or not, he may still have a political career ahead of him.