Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie formed an exploratory committee on Monday in an effort to seek leadership for the Ontario Liberal Party.
Former Ontario Deputy Premier and Windsor-area MPP Dwight Duncan is one of the 40 committee members. He said Crombie will be the one to bring the Liberals back after they’ve fallen off the track over recent years.
“I want a leader who’s in touch with the economy and with working people whether they’re in Windsor or Toronto,” he said in an interview with HumberNews. “Identity politics isn’t going to cut it.”
Duncan said the party has recently shifted too far to the left and that Ontarians can spot an imposter when they see one.
“When people are given the choice between a New Democrat and a pretend, people will opt for the real thing,” he said. “It’s vital that we reclaim the centre while maintaining progressive views on the issues that matter to working people.”
Crombie quietly launched her campaign website on Monday, where she shares that she dedicates herself to “putting people first” and “building an inclusive Ontario.”
Her announcement for candidacy came a week after Premier Doug Ford’s decision to dissolve Peel region, a change that she has been fighting for for years.
However, Crombie said she will not be stepping down as Mississauga Mayor as she prepares for the election and will be using time in her evenings and weekends to work on her campaign.
On her media tour this morning, including conversations with CTV News, CP24 and CBC News, Crombie said her time as leader of the Ontario Liberals will go to fixing the faults of Ford.
In an interview with CBC News, she said Ford’s handling of the plan to develop the Greenbelt “lacked consultations with Indigenous communities.”
“We need to address what’s broken,” she said to CTV News earlier today. “Our healthcare system is broken. Our education system is broken.”
In the election last year, the Ontario Liberal Party fell short of official party status, winning only seven seats across the province. Former leader Steven Del Duca also failed to win his own seat.
The party is currently headed by interim leader John Fraser. However, he has not indicated whether he will seek re-election this year.
Duncan said the pool of candidates seeking leadership is strong, some of which include MP Yasir Naqvi and MP Nathaniel Erksine-Smith. However, Crombie’s “second to none” work ethic is what will set her apart from the rest.
“Her tenacity on the Peel region is indicative of how hard she’s prepared to work to get what she believes needs to be done,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time for Ontario liberals to have a hotly-contested leadership group. I can see the foundation of a government in the people who are in this leadership race,” Duncan said.
“She’s [Bonnie Crombie] got an incredible personality and presence, but so does Ford. But that’s why we need a really good politician to take him on.”
Before serving three terms as Mississauga Mayor starting in 2014, she served as a Liberal Party of Canada MP in the city and a councillor in Ward 5.
Former mayor Hazel McCallion also endorsed Crombie running for mayor in 2014.
Duncan said he’s excited to see things unfold in the upcoming months.
“The good news for Liberals is that we’ve got a lot of solid choices, but I happen to think Bonnie is the right choice,” he said.