Mitzie Hunter to seek Ontario Liberal leadership; vows to ‘reconnect, revitalize and reboot’ the party

Another former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister has announced plans to seek the party’s top job.

Mitzie Hunter, who served as education minister until the 2018 election that reduced the Liberals to third-party status, launched her leadership bid Wednesday night and said she hopes to rebuild the party’s fortunes.

“Our party must reconnect, revitalize and reboot our approach to making this province more affordable and to creating more opportunities for Ontarians,” Hunter said in a speech delivered in her east-Toronto riding.

“To do this we need a strong leader with an experienced background willing to make bold moves. That’s what we need and that’s why I’m running for leadership.”

Hunter criticized the many program cuts made by Premier Doug Ford’s government since his Progressive Conservatives swept to power last year.

Last year’s election, which handed Ford a majority mandate, saw the Liberals claim just seven seats in the legislature and fall one short of the threshold for official party status.

Hunter was one of the former Liberals to be re-elected, a fact she cited as part of her personal history of beating the odds.

Liberals should ‘knock on a million doors,’ Hunter says

As leader, Hunter said a key goal would be to knock on a million doors in the run-up to the 2022 election to ensure the Liberals are back in the political mix.

Under her leadership, Hunter said the party’s goals would include raising the high school education rate to 90 per cent, making it easier for workers to upgrade their skills or obtain new credentials, and extending the province’s health insurance program to cover mental health care for residents under 30.

“My vision is rooted in the everyday reality of Ontarians — that this province needs to become more affordable and we need to create more opportunities,” Hunter said in prepared remarks.

Hunter is the third former cabinet minister to run for the leadership.

Former child and youth services minister Michael Coteau and past economic development minister Steven Del Duca have already announced their bids.

Former policy adviser Alvin Tedjo has also declared his candidacy.

The party set out rules for the leadership contest in June, announcing it would maintain the status quo by running a delegated convention next year. Candidates will be required to pay $100,000, a quarter of which is being treated as a conditionally refundable deposit.

The leadership convention will take place on March 6 and 7 in Mississauga, Ont.

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