Liberals looking for a leader: 100,000 voting

TORONTO – In a week we will know who is the new leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. After a heated eight-month campaign with five debates, card-carrying party members cast their votes this weekend for the person they hope will defeat Premier Doug Ford in the next provincial election: 100,000 people registered to vote , the all-time high for the party. “It’s a big challenge,” Ontario’s interim Liberal leader, John Fraser, told reporters. 

Members voted Saturday and Sunday at polling stations across the province — results won’t be announced until Dec. 2, and all ballots will be delivered via a “secure method” to be manually counted by staff on that day.

As is known, the party has been without a permanent leader since last year, when Steven Del Duca resigned after the 2022 provincial elections produced a second consecutive poor result for the Liberals.

The four candidates to lead the party are Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Liberal MP and former provincial cabinet minister Yasir Naqvi, Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith and former Liberal MP and current provincial caucus member Ted Hsu.

The leadership race saw candidates sign up in record numbers, with more than 100,000 people eligible to vote for the new leader, compared to 44,000 and 38,000 in the previous two leadership contests.

The favorite seems to be Bonnie Crombie and for this reason Yasir Naqvi and Nate Erskine-Smith have formed an alliance, asking supporters to choose the other as second choice in an attempt to prevent the victory of the first citizen of Mississauga. The voting method, in fact, could favor a similar agreement: the voters’ first choices are added together and if a candidate obtains more than 50% of the points, he wins, but if no candidate reaches the 50% threshold, the candidate with the highest score lowest is eliminated from the ballot and the voters’ second choices are counted and distributed to the remaining candidates and the process continues up to three rounds until someone gets more than 50%.

Former Liberal premiers Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne will speak at the December 2 event ahead of the results announcement, as will interim leader John Fraser who has led the party – on an interim basis – twice, since Wynne’s resignation in 2018 and after Del Duca’s resignation in 2022.

The party also announced last month that it had paid off its $3 million debt from the 2022 election, thanks in part to fundraising during the leadership campaign, which saw the party raise more than $1.46 million dollars in the third quarter of 2023.

In short: the Ontario Liberals are trying to get back on their feet after the continuous defeats of recent years, even if it will not be an easy task given that all the polls, thanks to a general discontent towards Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, give them at percentages that leave well few doubts about the party’s crisis.

In the pic above, Bonnie Crombie (screenshot from Twitter X – @BonnieCrombie)