Kathleen Wynne wins key endorsement.

David Peterson is still enough of a politician to not show his preference among the leadership candidates for the provincial party. He can let his sister-in-law do it for him. That is the import of Health Minister Bev Mathews announcing her support for Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne. Nobody doubts that the former Premier Peterson wants to maintain his influence at Queen’s Park.

Frankly, David might have done better for the province and himself by giving retiring Premier Dalton McGuinty better advice over the past year. Figuratively stabbing Liberal friends the teachers in the back and arguing with the Ontario Medical Association did Dalton no good. If Peterson is really behind getting his sister-in-law to support Wynne, it makes Peterson a lesser person.

What it looks like is that Peterson must be worried about how well Sandra Pupatello is doing in her very aggressive campaign. It also might explain what is going on with Babel’s provincial Liberals. If Peterson asked them to get behind Wynne, they would do it. They never seem to have a positive idea of their own.

The importance of public opinion polls is not particularly high in this type of race. The fact that Gerard Kennedy came first in recent polling shows that he has the best name recognition among the general public. The people with the clout in a delegated convention such as the Ontario Liberals are holding are the ex-officio MPPs, former candidates, former premiers and party officials. It is this coterie of about 800 people who hold the most clout with the party members elected in each electoral district.

The only problem is many of these ex-officio delegates to the convention have their ties to the past, not the future of the party. If there were a common theme to their desires it would be for control. As one of the first among these equals, David Peterson can trade on his influence with the party. If he can help keep it in power, his influence is far greater than if the party descends into the back benches of opposition. His conundrum is that he can measure his degree of influence with each of the candidates, The candidate who is best for the Liberal Party might not be the candidate who is best for David Peterson.

We have no idea how Kathleen Wynne is going to play with Liberals across the province. This exercise is one in choosing a leader. People who wish to lead, have an obligation to tell us where they want to go.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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