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Andrew Ikeman | News Editor

IN THE WEEKS since Dalton McGuinty resigned his post as leader of the Ontario Liberal Party (OLP), there has been a seemingly endless number of refusals by high-ranking Liberals to enter the race for the position.

The list of people who don’t want the job is considerable: Minister of Energy Chris Bentley; Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan (both of whom have announced their intention to retire from politics); Liberal Party President and Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi; and Minister of Transportation, Minister of Infrastructure, and former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli.

At the moment it appears that only two members of McGuinty’s cabinet are going to throw their hats in the ring. They are Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Kathleen Wynne; and former mayor of Winnipeg (yes, that Winnipeg) and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Glen Murray—both of whom resigned their posts in cabinet in order to run for the leadership and have launched their campaigns for leader. Some people who have declined to run have been known to possess leadership ambitions, but declined nonetheless.

Some of the other names in the mix are former attorney general Michael Bryant, who gained notoriety after an incident with a cyclist; former minister George Smitherman; Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Deb Matthews, who continues to be dogged by questions about the Ornge Air ambulance scandal; and former MP and MPP Gerard Kennedy.

The field isn’t looking so great. That’s no knock on those in the running—both Wynne and Murray have serious leadership potential—but shouldn’t the race include the best of the best? Why aren’t some of the top people in the party running?
The reason is not Ontario, if you listen to some of the OLP’s own rhetoric, the province is in great shape, and poised to remain one of the strongest in the country.

Whoever wins the leadership won’t have it easy. They will become premier among a bevy of scandals and will face an opposition who are ready to pull down this minority government.

Opposition leader Tim Hudak and New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath have been able to effectively challenge the Ontario government at every turn, and refused to put up with any attempts by the government to hide any information. According to some, the status of minority government was hard for McGuinty to handle after years as a majority premier.

These new challenges may be difficult, but in the end, you have to wonder why no one is willing to step up to the plate. While McGuinty was in office, the federal Liberals were reduced to their lowest point ever, and yet there was never a lack of candidates for the federal leadership. Now, I know it is not even a month into the campaign, but the fact that so many of the party’s elite have already bowed out of the race is definitely disconcerting.

The race to determine who will become Ontario’s next premier will be a hard-fought one. With the date to submit nominations coming up this month, the pressure is on.