Kathleen Wynne admits Liberals won’t win election, urges voters to still vote for the party
Speaking at an event in North York Saturday morning, Wynne said the party would not form the next government after Thursday’s vote.
“We’re in the homestretch of this election campaign and I just wanted to say a few words about what lies ahead and my perspective on the decision left to voters.,” Wynne began her speech.
“On June 7 voters will elect a new government. I don’t know who voters will choose but I am pretty sure that it won’t be me. After Thursday, I will no longer be Ontario’s Premier. And I’m okay with that.”
It wasn’t one particular thing that solidified the decision for the party leader but rather a “confluence of things,” Wynne said.
WATCH: Kathleen Wynne urges voters to still vote for Liberal party
“I can’t tell you the moment,” she said, adding they’ve been looking at it for a while now.
Though she did well in the debate on May 27, Wynne said she knew that it “wasn’t going to turn the tide.”
Her plea comes at a time where polls suggest the governing Liberals, who have been trailing behind the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats, could be at risk of losing official party status after the June 7 vote.
Wynne, however, refused to say whether she would step down as party leader after the election.
“I think we need to see what happens. I can’t tell you exactly what that process will be,” she told reporters. “The sure thing is that we’re dealing with the reality that I won’t be the premier.”
She declined to endorse either the Tories or NDP, and urged voters to elect as many Liberal MPPs as possible in order to prevent either party from winning a majority government.
Wynne said whichever way the vote goes, people should hope for a minority win to keep the government “from acting too extreme – one way or the other.”
“There are people in ridings where they think the local Liberal candidate is the person who should win … if your concern is that you’d be electing me or electing a Liberal government, that’s not going to happen. And so we need liberals at Queen’s Park to stop a majority for either of the other governments.”
Wynne said the sentiment toward Ford and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is much the same.
“With a majority government Doug Ford would have too free a hand for the comfort of most people – they don’t trust his judgment. They don’t trust the choices he would make.,” she said.
“…People worry about what will happen to our economy if the NDP take power and form a majority government with nothing to hold them back.”
When asked about the Wynne announcement, Ford, speaking at an event in Nepean, Ont., reiterated the message that the election was about “change.”
“This whole election has been about change. People are sick and tired of being the most indebted, subnational debted in the entire world,” he said. “… People are sick and tired of having the highest hydro rate in North America. People are sick and tired of high taxes.”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released a statement echoing the statement of change made by Ford.
“Kathleen Wynne has abandoned the fight against Doug Ford cuts. And her request today for a minority government is a demand that she be allowed to continue to hold the power at Queen’s Park – something voters have already rejected,” she wrote.
Liberal insiders said the party was essentially fighting for its survival.
Omar Khan, a Liberal executive council member, said the party is now working on maintaining official party status.
“We need to do everything to make sure we get at least eight seats in the legislature…so we can be in a position again to be a moderating influence on the other two parties,” he said.
A senior Liberal, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “the party is facing an existential crisis.”
“Right now we could win as little as zero seats, so we have to – as Liberals and I think all progressives in Ontario – need to realize that and kick into high gear over the next five days to make sure that doesn’t happen,” they said.
The source listed about a dozen ridings in which the party thinks they have a reasonable shot at winning, such as Vaughan-Woodbridge, Toronto -St. Pauls, two Ottawa seats and some in eastern Ontario. Wynne’s own riding was not one the Liberal source listed.
The Liberals have been in power for the past 15 years, with Wynne as leader since 2013.
She remains the Liberal candidate in the Don Valley West riding.
—With files from The Canadian Press
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