Takhar latest to enter Ontario Liberal leadership race

Former government services minister and Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Harinder Takhar....

Former government services minister and Ontario Liberal leadership candidate Harinder Takhar. (Toronto Sun files)

Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

, Last Updated: 8:53 PM ET

TORONTO -- Mississauga-Erindale MPP Harinder Takhar has become the seventh candidate to seek the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Takhar is now the second candidate from Mississauga and one of six from the Greater Toronto Area.

As the deadline looms to enter the Ontario Liberal leadership race and sign up supporters by Friday, it's clear that job creation has already emerged as a key focus of the campaign.

"In conversations with ... grassroots Ontarians it has become clear to me that the bulk of their concerns centre around their ability to provide opportunities for their families to succeed in these times of economic uncertainty," Takhar said in a statement Thursday, after resigning his position as minister of Government Services to run in the leadership campaign.

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan will take over Takhar's cabinet duties.

Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne, who Thursday called on the federal government to provide stable transit funding to combat economy-stalling gridlock, said the province needs a plan for all Ontarians to prosper.

"We need to keep creating jobs and growing the economy so we can protect the public services Ontario families rely on -- better schools, world-class health care, and new transit and infrastructure," Wynne said.

Mississauga South MPP Charles Sousa said he would support and build primary and value-added secondary manufacturing and speed up the "Ring of Fire" mining development with improved transportation and energy transmission.

"I'm running to be Ontario's Jobs Premier," Sousa said. "Too many Ontarians are unemployed. It's time for less talk and more action."

Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray said he wants to work on important aspects of the economy.

"The campaign is about having a practical workable plan to increase the income of middle and modest income households, make sure university, college and a trades education is affordable for all, and the small and medium enterprises can find the investment dollars and skilled people to grow jobs and opportunities for Ontarians," Murray said.

St. Paul's MPP Dr. Eric Hoskins said he believes this contest is about finding a new leader and premier who can re-connect with all Ontarians.

"I was born and raised in rural Ontario -- it's where I learned the value of hard work -- and I believe that I can be a bridge between rural Ontarians and urban Ontarians," Hoskins said. "Being a family doctor taught me the importance of listening. That's something that governments don't do enough of, but it's what we need if our party is going to re-connect and re-engage with Ontarians on their priorities."

The four Liberals join with fellow candidates Gerard Kennedy and Sandra Pupatello in a campaign that culminates in a leadership convention in Toronto on the weekend of Jan. 25.

Ontario Liberal Leadership Debates:

** Ingersoll, Dec. 1, at 1 p.m. -- The Fusion Youth Centre

** Thunder Bay, Dec. 9, at 1 p.m. -- Lakehead University

** Ottawa, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m. -- Carleton University

** Durham Region, Jan. 6, at 1 p.m. -- Ajax Convention Centre

** Toronto, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m. -- Old Mill Inn in Etobicoke


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