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Bonnie's big bid is on
We got our hands on Crombie's campaign site — while it was live — suggesting the heavyweight Liberal is running for provincial leader
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is running for Grit captain.
We got our hands on Crombie's campaign website — while it was online. After we asked her camp to confirm the authenticity of the site at around 10:40am, it went down. Crombie's signature logo, which she has used in her past mayoral campaigns, is still maintained in her provincial bid's fresh Liberal red branding, while a trillium is placed over the letter 'i' in Crombie, signifying the jump from City Hall to Queen's Park.
Crombie — who had been "strongly considering" a bid for the provincial Liberal leadership — is expected to officially launch her campaign for the provincial Liberal leadership as early as this week, as we scooped on Saturday.
"We have some serious problems in Ontario," Crombie says. "I can't stand by as the current government takes us down the wrong path and does irrevocable damage for generations," she adds, in a brief on her vision for the province.
Why she's running: "I want to be leader of a Liberal government that puts people first," Crombie says in a pitch to party members. "We cannot afford more of what this government has done over the past five years. I've seen it firsthand in my community, and the burden it has placed on the residents of Mississauga. It's time to put an end to this," she explains.
Crombie's relationship with Premier Doug Ford's government has soured in the past months — with speculation growing on the mayor's leadership ambitions. An irritated Ford told Crombie during a presser in December to "get on board" and "stop whining," over her criticism of legislation that would quash developer fees. "I'm not whining," she fired back in a lengthy statement on Ford's tirade.
However, the jump to provincial politics comes days after the Ford government tabled legislation that would pave the way for Mississauga's independence, something Crombie had long advocated for.
So, why the move? The version of Crombie's website that has been taken down doesn't name Ford himself — but takes jabs at the Tories over the Ontario Place deal with Therme Group to build a waterfront spa and waterpark. "They have made things worse through cutbacks and underfunding of key public services. They have the wrong priorities for our province. They would spend taxpayer money on a luxury spa and parking garage, for instance, instead of using that money to fix our overburdened healthcare system," Crombie spells out. "They are rewarding their friends instead of looking after the needs of the people," she adds.
"We have serious issues that we need to tackle, from a healthcare system that is fraying at the edges, to schools being shortchanged, to an affordability crisis that is impacting many in our province," she explains. "We need a government that encourages business and entrepreneurship instead of advancing insiders and cronies," she later adds, in a dig at the PCs.
Centrist, progressive, responsible: The longtime chief magistrate is painting herself as "a centrist by nature."
"I'm socially progressive, but fiscally responsible," Crombie says, adding that her "background in the private sector and my public service" is an asset, providing her with the experience to deal "with the issues we face."
Crombie says building "an inclusive Ontario that realizes our potential" is the goal, pointing to her work at City Hall. "It is what I have done in Mississauga and what I want to share with the rest of the province."
Crombie is a heavyweight contender. At Queen's Park, she is viewed as a formidable challenger to Premier Doug Ford and the Tories in the upcoming provincial election. "I frequently hear it said that Bonnie entering the race would be a game changer and I agree. We're lucky that so many passionate people want to run the party," one Liberal insider said.
As we reported in November, she had been fielding calls from supporters encouraging her to run. Crombie stayed quiet, before word broke that she was "strongly" mulling over a bid.
According to a spokesperson in early May, Crombie's decision to run would be "answering the call to stand up to a government that has taken her community of Mississauga and the province in the wrong direction. No decision had yet been made, as Crombie attended the federal Liberal huddle in Ottawa, conversing with party members and meeting with interim Liberal leader John Fraser and party strategists. "She is talking to many people," the spokesperson added.
Privately, Crombie, who had been consulting allies on a possible run, told supporters in the few days that “she's running [for leader] and needs their support,” one source familiar with those conversations said. Crombie's bid was described as looking to be a go, barring any last minute surprises or delays, another said. "She's definitely running," a third source familiar with Crombie's conversations texted.
Crombie could make it official as early as tomorrow, as we reported on Saturday. She will soon host a meet and greet with supporters, while headlining one hosted by UTM Young Liberals, not specifically on leadership. RSVP here.
With the mayor entering the race, she becomes the second candidate vying to replace former leader Steven Del Duca, who quit on election night after the Grits failed to secure party status. Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi will follow Crombie in making his bid for captain official in early June — as first reported in this newsletter — with one Team Naqvi operative teasing "a great day."
The leadership race comes down in early December, with a ranked ballot election for the first time in the party's history. The entry fee is pegged at a hefty $100,000, with a refundable $25,000 deposit. The deadline for would-be candidates to file their nomination papers is September 5.