Sandra Pupatello announces bid to lead Ont. Liberals

Sandra Pupatello has been an MPP since 1995. (ANTONELLA ARTUSO/QMI Agency file)

Sandra Pupatello has been an MPP since 1995. (ANTONELLA ARTUSO/QMI Agency file)

Jonathan Jenkins, Queen's Park Bureau

, Last Updated: 5:39 PM ET

TORONTO -- Jobs - including getting back her old one as MPP - will be priorities for Sandra Pupatello’s Liberal leadership campaign, she said Thursday as she launched her bid to replace Premier Dalton McGuinty.

If elected by Liberal delegates at their January convention, Pupatello said she would not immediately recall the legislature but would instead seek her own seat through a byelection, likely the Windsor-Tecumseh seat of her good friend, retiring Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.

“I plan to have a seat in the House before the House would open,” Pupatello said. “I don’t want my party in the House without me in it as the leader.”

McGuinty prorogued the legislature when he announced his retirement on Oct. 15 but said he wanted his party to pick his successor as quickly as possible so MPPs could return as scheduled on Feb. 19.

Holding a byelection would push that back at least five weeks.

Pupatello said she’d prefer to try and pick up an opposition seat but noted Duncan -- who isn’t running for re-election -- is willing to step aside for her.

Overall, she offered no specific policies but promised to be open, transparent and focused on job creation.

“I’m about jobs,” Pupatello said. “That’s gong to be my mantra.

“I’m not left; I’m not right; I’m right in the middle. I’m a centrist who understands the importance of business so that governments get the revenues they need to do things in the way a Liberal government would do.”

She also tried to put some distance between herself and some of the issues plaguing the Liberal government since it eked out a minority last fall -- the expensive relocation of two gas plants and McGuinty’s prorogation -- saying she wasn’t at the cabinet table for some of those decisions and noted “with hindsight, things might have been done differently.”

Progressive Conservatives were quick to batter Pupatello on the job-creation front, putting out a video mocking her support for a $2.7-million grant to a company that shut its doors two years later.

“She’s part of the Liberal legacy here in Ontario and that’s one of waste, scandal and mismanagement,” PC MPP Monte McNaughton said.

New Democrat MPP Jonah Schein said he was delighted to hear Pupatello talk about jobs but was disappointed when she said the House wouldn’t immediately return.

“The most important job is to make sure we get the legislature working again and make sure MPPs are working again,” Schein said.


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