The deadline has passed for new entrants into the race to lead the Ontario Liberals and the field of candidates sits at 6. They are former Transport Minister Steve Del Duca, MPP Michael Coteau, MPP Mitzie Hunter, Kate Graham, Alvin Tedjo and lawyer Brenda Hollingsworth. In terms of fundraising Del Duca is ahead of the pack. He also had a head start on running for the top job. He was spotted 2018 in Hamilton drumming up support for a possible leadership run while still in the Wynne cabinet.
It looks like some Hamilton Liberals have decided to not only back Del Duca locally but to find him delegates further afield. Liberal Organizers Vito Sgro and Javid Mirza have been actively recruiting members in 28 ridings, including all the Hamilton ridings, but also in ridings like Newmarket Aurora, Brantford Brant, Perth, Niagara Falls, Bruce Grey Owen Sound, Oakville North Burlington, Niagara West, Haldimand Norfolk, Burlington, Guelph, Cambridge and Kitchener.
Party membership stood at over 40,000 when Kathleen Wynne and Sandra Pupatello faced off for the party leadership in 2013. Now membership is estimated at maybe 10,000 and is wallowing in debt. As candidate Coteau put it, “Back in June of last year, the Ontario Liberal Party as we know it died. . .. So the party that we knew no longer exists.” The next Liberal leader will be chosen at a Mississauga convention in March.