Crombie is not responding to plans to run for Ontario Liberal leadership

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Will Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie abandon ship and seek leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party? Crombie declined to say when asked Monday, but her name has been floating around as a potential candidate for months.

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To be honest, if she gets into the leadership contest, there’s a good chance, a very good chance, that she’ll win it all. Crombie has a track record at both the local and state levels, she’s well known, especially in GTA, and she would win some of the top Liberal organizers over to her side.

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Don Guy, who ran three successful campaigns for former Liberal Prime Minister Dalton McGuinty, has been known to whisper something in Crombie’s ear. It’s nothing to scoff at having someone deliver the first consecutive majority governments for the Liberals since Mitchell Hepburn in 1934-37.

But as they stood next to Ontario’s progressive Conservative Prime Minister Doug Ford on Monday morning, neither she nor Ford wanted to raise the issue of their candidacy for opposition leader. When asked by Global’s Colin D’Mello, the two veteran politicians went beyond the issue.

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But just two weekends ago, Crombie was in Ottawa and told delegates she was entering the race for the provincial Liberal leadership. Well, she won’t commit, so maybe Crombie didn’t tell them she was running away and they left their encounter with the wrong impression.

“Bonnie tells one person they’re running and the next they’re not,” said a veteran Liberal with provincial and federal experience.

“Crombie would like her name in the mix, but she won’t commit,” said another longtime Liberal.

Nobody doubts that she would be a serious candidate; The question is why would she quit a very good, well-paying job as Mississauga mayor to lead Ontario’s minivan party.

At the moment the entire Liberal group could travel to work in a minivan, it only has seven members and the new leader would not have a seat in the legislature. The party also doesn’t have the money to pay for a new leader, because as mayor of Mississauga, Crombie earned a base salary of $146,198 plus benefits worth $31,219.

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Currently, the base salary of an MPP is $116,000 per year, an amount Crombie would not be entitled to unless she won a by-election.

The Ontario Liberal Party, unlike its federal cousins, is broke. Their fundraising model isn’t working, and they can’t afford adequate staffing, let alone a salary, for a leader who doesn’t sit in the legislature.


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Certainly part of this problem could be solved by having a successful politician like Crombie at the helm, but that leaves many questions unanswered. Could she lead the Ontario Liberals into government from third place in a single election, and if not, is she willing to commit to a two-cycle plan?

One of the reasons Crombie wants to give up his secure, well-paying job for the uncertain future as Liberal leader relates to the future of the Peel region. If the Ford administration merges the Peel region, which includes Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, into one municipality, one school of thought says Crombie might not beat Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown in a direct competition for leadership of the merged city.

The two former MPs-turned-local mayors have never been in direct competition, but based on what Premier Doug Ford has said, he wants a split from Peel rather than a merger, meaning there’s no fight to enter the mayor’s office of Peel.

So is Crombie giving up her secure job in Mississauga, which she obviously loves, to take on the challenge of rebuilding a once-dominant party that failed to gain official party status in the last two elections?

Crazier things have happened in politics, stay tuned.


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