Last night the Province of Ontario made history. We elected Kathleen Wynne as Premier in a sweeping majority government. Not only did they elect a women Premier for the first time ever, but they also elected the first openly gay or lesbian Premier. Wynne was appointed Premier when the incumbent, Dalton McGuinty stepped down about 18 months ago, amidst a scandal. At the time, many predicted that Wynne would not survive past the next election, as the leader of a minority government. Of the five female leaders of Provincial Governments in Canada last year, only two have survived, Kathleen Wynne and Christy Clarke, of British Columbia.
Wynne’s government was brought down over her recent budget. She fought a difficult, ugly campaign, that right to the end looked like it could be a nail-biter. Whether or not you agree with Liberal Party policies, you have to admire Kathleen Wynne. Not for her politics, but for her approach to politics. She tried to be inclusive and positive in an environment that was loaded with attack campaigning. Yet again, this suggests that Canadians just don’t respond to negative attack approaches. Here is a lesson in leadership – a focus on the positive, on vision, on what is possible resonates more than a focus on the negative.
I do have to say that the opposition, both the NPD and the Progressive Conservatives refrained from personal attacks against Wynne and her lifestyle. They kept it about the issues not the people. Let’s give them credit for taking the high road.
In her victory speech last night, Wynne noted, “This is a beautiful, inclusive place we live in,” where “anyone can be the premier” in such an open-minded province. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ontario. We are going to build Ontario up for everyone in this province — everyone. You voted for jobs, you voted for growth.”
Whether or not you agree with Wynne’s policies, it is clear to me that Wynne ran and won on her merits. It makes me proud to be a Canadian, proud to be an Ontarian, where sexual orientation is not a reason for scandal in politics, is not a reason for rejection, in fact, is not an issue when we vote for a leader. While we still have a long way to go to ensure equal opportunity for women, visible minorities and for the LGBT community, this election certainly signals that we have made some progress.