Premier Doug Ford used a friendly question from a backbencher to set up a moving tribute to former Premier Kathleen Wynne, who announced yesterday that she will not seek re-election in the 2022 election. Addressing Wynne directly as “Premier,” Ford said, “ we may differ on policies…we may differ on political outlooks, but as a person, I have the utmost respect for you—you walked a mile in my shows. During the election …people asked me, ‘how is Kathleen Wynne as a person?’ “I said she is super nice. Unlike some other people who can be just mean and nasty-spirited people.” At this point some heckling could be heard from NDP leader Andrea Horwath and her colleagues. The speaker called for order. Ford continued his tribute to Wynne. “Always there, very kind, very polite—never took anything personal. And that’s the way more people should act around here, Mr. Speaker, she blazed a new trail being the first woman premier, she blazed a new trail by being the first gay premier…” At that point the chamber rose in a standing ovation.
Later reporters asked Ford for his reaction to the Horwath heckling.
Ford made headlines several weeks ago when he said of the predecessor he used to attack, “She understands the pressures of this job. ”You know something? I could never get upset with the former premier, because she’s walked a mile in my shoes. She understands it,” he said in the house today and later to reporters.
Wynne has been in the Ontario legislature since 2003. Prior to that she was a trustee on the Toronto Board of Education. Wynne was a co-founder with John Sewell of Citizens for Local Democracy, a grassroots group that opposed the 1999 amalgamation of the old City of Toronto with the rest of Metropolitan Toronto. In 2006 she entered the cabinet as Minister of Education. In 2010, she was moved to minister of transportation and in 2011 she was appointed minister of municipal affairs and housing and minister of aboriginal affairs. She became premier in 2013 after Dalton McGinty resigned.