As candidates compete for leadership of Ontario’s Liberal party, their main focus is on becoming the strongest contender against Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford, who has defeated the Liberals in the past two elections. One of the candidates, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, has faced criticism from fellow candidates regarding campaign donations she has received from developers.
The biggest political challenge currently faced by Mr. Ford is the controversy surrounding his government’s decision to open up land in the Greenbelt for housing development. The province’s integrity commissioner found that the deal improperly favored a few developers.
During a debate hosted by the Toronto Metropolitan University’s Democracy Forum on September 20, Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi criticized Crombie for her acceptance of donations, stating that her style of politics has similarities to Doug Ford. Crombie defended herself, emphasizing her ability to raise funds, stating that it is necessary to combat Ford and his government.
Crombie expressed her belief that the Greenbelt is “sacred” and that there is no need to open up land there to address the province’s housing needs. Ford, on the other hand, argues that opening up the Greenbelt land is necessary to meet urgent housing needs, as the federal government’s new immigration targets are expected to result in a greater influx of people seeking homes.
The other three candidates in the Liberal party leadership race are Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Liberal MPPs Ted Hsu and Adil Shamji, who is also a physician. All candidates expressed their opposition to Bill 124 and their commitment to improving the education system.
The candidates also weighed in on the “1 Million March for Children” and counter-protests that took place across the country, focusing on parental rights and LGBT issues in schools. The candidates showed support for inclusive policies and dialogue on these matters.
Regarding healthcare, the candidates spoke against the use of private clinics, opposing Ford’s plan to allocate more routine surgeries to private clinics to tackle the province’s backlog. They emphasized the importance of accessing healthcare through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and called for the coverage of mental health issues.
When asked about the possibility of forming alliances with other parties, all candidates expressed their determination to take down Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservatives. The Liberal party members are scheduled to cast their ballots on the weekend of November 25, and the winner will be announced on December 2. The leadership election was called after former leader Steven Del Duca resigned following the previous provincial election, in which he failed to win his own riding and the party performed poorly overall.