Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie chosen as new leader of Ontario Liberal Party


Published December 2, 2023 at 4:38 pm

Bonnie Crombie, who recently stepped away from her position as mayor of Mississauga to run for leader of the Ontario Liberal Party (OLP), has been chosen to lead the provincial party. 

Crombie, first elected mayor in 2014, was declared the winner today (Dec. 2) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The former mayor faced off against three other candidates: Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith, Liberal MP and former cabinet minister Yasir Naqvi and former Liberal MP and current provincial caucus member Ted Hsu. 

As the first ballot results rolled in, Crombie led the race with 5,559 points, followed by Erskine-Smith with 3,320 points and Naqvi with 2,760 points.

The second-round ballots revealed that Crombie had obtained 46.7 per cent of the votes—sufficient for victory—though falling slightly short of the 50 per cent threshold. Erskine-Smith trailed in second place with 29.3 per cent of votes.

Yasir Naqvi, former provincial cabinet minister and Liberal MP, garnered the fewest points and was eliminated after the second round.

A third round was initiated, incorporating the tallied votes from Naqvi’s supporters into the points of the remaining candidates, Crombie and Erskine-Smith.

With the final results announced, Bonnie Crombie triumphed in the election with 6,911 points. The crowd couldn’t control their excitement as they chanted “Crombie, Crombie, Crombie” repeatedly.

Party members cast ranked ballots for their preferred candidate last weekend in what the OLP called its “most inclusive and accessible leadership process–ever.” In-person voting was available for almost all constituency associations, student clubs, and women’s clubs. Main-in votes were also accepted. 

The party has been without a permanent leader since last year, when Steven Del Duca resigned after the 2022 provincial election produced a second dismal result in a row for the Liberals.

The leadership race has seen the candidates sign up a record number of members, with more than 100,000 people eligible to vote for the new leader, up from 44,000 and 38,000 in the two previous leadership contests.

Now that Crombie has won the hotly-contested leadership race, she’ll immediately take up the full-time task of pushing the Liberals’ agenda province-wide with a focused eye on defeating Premier Doug Ford in the next election, slated for June 2026.

Crombie, 63, released a statement before the voting commenced in which she laid out her case as to why she’s the best of the four candidates to tackle key issues of health care, affordability, education and — most importantly, Liberals will tell you — taking down Ford at the next available opportunity.

“This vote is critical. Ontario cannot afford another four years of Doug Ford’s inside deals and misplaced priorities,” Crombie, who succeeded the iconic Hazel McCallion as Mississauga mayor over nine years ago, said. 

“Our health-care and education systems are in crisis. Our doctors, nurses, PSWs and educators are struggling. Our environment is being sold off to friends of the Premier. And the cost of housing, groceries and heating keeps going up.

“Doug Ford and his Conservatives do not have an ounce of leadership to tackle the big problems at Queen’s Park,” she continued. “We need positive, progressive, pragmatic Liberal leadership in Ontario.”

In her victory speech, Crombie said, “There is no question, being an Ontario Liberal is back. Thank you for taking a spark and turning it into a big red flame here today.”

Crombie swiftly transitioned her to focus on the upcoming battle against Ford in 2026.

“Ford and his conservative cronies have been the opponents in all of our sights this entire campaign,” she said.

She emphasized the need for Liberals to diligently rebuild trust with Ontarians and further stressed the importance of inspiring and recruiting candidates who mirror the diversity of the province.

Crombie also expressed gratitude to her late mentor, Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion, acknowledging her invaluable lessons on the significance of attentive listening and effective financial management.

– With files from Declan Finucane and The Canadian Press 

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