Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

The new leader of the Ontario Liberal Party doesn't have a seat yet, but she has options

 How to lead a party without sitting in the Legislative Assembly

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Bonnie Crombie will have to lead her party from outside the Ontario legislature. (Archives)

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Bonnie Crombie is now the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. However, she is not an MP at Queen's Park. What options are available to her to lead her party?

The Liberal leader remains the mayor of Mississauga for the moment. She also signaled during the leadership race her intention to close certain municipal files before throwing herself body and soul into rebuilding the party.

I have to close my municipal budget, close the Peel Region budget and close some deals in Mississauga, she reiterated to reporters Saturday evening, after her victory speech.

Ms Crombie believes she would be able to provide a resignation date in the new year, in consultation with interim Liberal leader John Fraser.

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Bonnie Crombie will lead the party in the next provincial election. She will try to take the post of prime minister from Doug Ford.

Even once the official handover is complete, the mayor faces a big obstacle: she cannot stand up at Queen's Park to address Premier Doug Ford, since she does not have a seat.

So here are the options available to her, according to two political strategists.

Former Labor Minister Monte McNaughton resigned in September for a job in the private sector. He represented the rural riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex in southwestern Ontario.

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In a press briefing on Saturday, the Liberal leader admitted to thinking about running in this constituency.

We'll think about it. I think the long term ideal would be to run in Mississauga.

A quote from Bonnie Crombie, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party

Ms. Crombie is best known in the Mississauga region, where she represented from 2008 to 2011 in Parliament in Ottawa, and as mayor since 2014.

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Monte McNaughton resigned in September in the wake of the scandal the greenbelt. (Archive photo)

I don't know if she should run [in Lambton—Kent—Middlesex] ​​because it's not her community and if she lost the seat it would be is a bit embarrassing for her and for the party, says former Ontario Liberal minister John Milloy.

The new leader could ask one of the nine Liberal caucus MPs to resign. Prime Minister Doug Ford would therefore be required to declare this seat vacant and trigger a by-election, in which Ms. Crombie could run.

This t's not a risk-free strategy, since no Liberal MP sits in the Peel region, where Ms. Crombie is better known, says Mr. Milloy.

She has to develop a political program for the party, it's a lot of work, he says. A by-election that is not in your region is not a priority.

Remember that the Liberals do not have enough seats to the Legislative Assembly to obtain official party status.

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Former Ontario Liberal Party leader Steven Del Duca leaves the stage – literally and figuratively – after resigning as party leader on election night in 2022.

Crombie could also choose not to sit in the legislature until the next election, or until a seat closer to Mississauga becomes available.

This is what the previous Liberal leader, Steven Del Duca, did, although he failed to win his own seat in the 2022 provincial election.

Not having a seat could thus allow the leader to travel the province to make herself known.

I think that at least for the first few months or the first year, it would be really great to see [the new boss] focus on her return to the ground, re-introduce herself to Ontarians, talk to local newspapers, talk to local Liberals and make sure people really have a sense of who [she is], says Liberal strategist Ashley Csanady.

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Bonnie Crombie during the final debate of the Liberal leadership race in Brampton.

The main interested party also announced on Saturday her intention to continue traveling across Ontario.

I think it is very important that I continue my work on the road, as I continue to meet people in small towns and communities who feel isolated, abandoned and neglected by this government.

The next provincial election is scheduled to take place in June 2026.

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