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Mood is upbeat as Ontario Liberals gather in Hamilton

With photos and reporting from Nathan Reid-Welford

Just hours before the worst storm of this winter, approximately 1,100 Ontario Liberals gathered at the Hamilton Convention Centre. For a party that is leaderless and has gone through the second emphatic rejection by Ontario voters in four years, the crowd was young, large and significantly upbeat. While the agenda is mostly about electing a new executive, the one item to be voted on is the method of electing a leader. The Ontario Liberals are one of the last parties to have had their leader elected by delegates selected at the riding level. Most other parties including the federal Liberals have gone to the one-person-one-vote system. It’s the option Scarborough MPP Mitzie Hunter, who is rumored to be interested in running for Toronto mayor, told Bill Kelly she will be advocating.

Potential candidates for the leadership were seen circulating the convention floor including  Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Liberal MP for Beaches-East York, who has made his interest known and who recently is stepping down as chair of the Liberals’ Toronto caucus so he can have “more time to focus on other opportunities.”

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie attracted a good deal of attention at the gathering, as her name is also being circulated as a potential leadership candidate. There is talk of the Ford Government amalgamating some of the two-tier governments like Peel, a move that would potentially pit Crombie against Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown. First elected Mississauga Mayor in 2014, Crombie has twice been re-elected by overwhelming margins.

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