Burlington Liberals meet with leadership candidate Ted Hsu

By Pepper Parr

July 23rd, 2023


We were advised today that there is a fifth candidate: Dr. Adil Shamji.  Our apologies for missing that.

The campaign for a new Ontario Liberal party leader reached Burlington on the weekend. Ted Hsu, currently the MPP for Kingston and the Islands, wants to lead the party and is crisscrossing the province to meet people who will be part of the process when a leadership convention takes place early in December.

Voting for the new leader will be a ranked ballot event instead of a convention at which the delegates choose.

Ted Hsu, one of four candidates for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party

Ted Hsu has been the MPP for Kingston and the Islands since the 2022 Ontario provincial election. He formerly served as federal Liberal MP for the Kingston and the Islands riding from 2011 to 2015, but chose not to run for re-election so he could spend more time with his family.

Hsu officially launched his Liberal leadership campaign late in May. He was joined on stage by guitarist Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip.

In a telephone interview Hsu took me though his views on key issues: energy, long term health care, protecting the Greenbelt and ensuring the homes that are going to be needed are built.

Hsu takes a strong policy view to running the province if he gets the opportunity but is realistic enough to know that policy doesn’t get you very far when it comes to votes.  He knows that getting in front of people and pressing the flesh is the way elections are won.

He doesn’t have a quickly recognized profile that he can rely upon.  The group he met with in Burlington was small, it’s summer time, people want to enjoy the weather and do family events.

Hsu said he thinks we are going to have to rely more on nuclear for the energy the province needs and that Ontario needs to “marshal the resources it has” and make the tools and technology that is in place available to the private sector who will create the jobs needed to grow the economy.       

Hsu was very firm on the creation of  gas plants – “We need to avoid going that route – fossil fuels are not a solution – they are the problem.

Ted Hsu with Ancilla Ho Young and local party president Lisa Mayeski

Hsu takes the approach that voters are going to have to trust the people they choose to lead them.  He spoke of the ‘Ring of Fire’, a northern area 540 km northeast of Thunder Bay Ontario where the unproven mineral deposits lie underneath the  carbon-rich peatlands of the James Bay Lowlands.

Mining that part of the province was an issue in the 2022 election.  There are outstanding questions about the Ring of Fire that that Hsu believes have to resolved first with the Indigenous community who Hsu said have a veto.

Hsu said he feels people elected to office need to bring a level of humility to the work they do and to constantly check on the work they do. “We need to be constantly testing and checking the impact of the decisions they make.

Asked if he thought the Ontario Liberals need to do what the federal Liberals did in the 60’s  when they held a national conference in Kingston on what the country needed in the way of a social policy.

Few would argue that Ontario desperately needs a distinct social policy; Hsu was non-committal on such an approach but he certainly knew what the 60’s event was all about and the role it played in creating many of the federal government programs in place today.

Re-earning the trust of voters was a phrase Hsu used often – “let them ask the hard questions, Hsu wanted the public to be able to poke and prod, he said he felt politicians had to be bold and fearless and risk losing some votes.

“We have to work at changing the culture” he said.

Ted Hsu was born in Bartsville, Oklahoma and moved to Canada when his father got a job teaching at Queen’s University. He graduated from Queen’s and pursued graduate studies at Princeton University, where he completed his PhD in physics in 1989. Hsu worked as a researcher and trader in Paris and Philadelphia for Banque Nationale de Paris, and as an executive director in the Tokyo office of Morgan Stanley, a global investment bank.

There are currently four people running for the leadership: Ted Hsu, Yasir Naqvi, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Bonnie Crombie and Dr. Adil Shamji

Ted Hsu meeting with local Liberals: Answering questions – building trust

September 5 is the deadline for the Ontario Liberals leadership candidate registration. Candidates must have an entry fee of $100,000 and a refundable $25,000 deposit.

September 11is the final day for new members to join the party and be eligible to vote in the leadership election, except for members of student clubs, who have until September 26.

November 25 to 26 Party members will cast their votes by ranked ballot. The  Liberal members voted to scrap the party’s use of delegated conventions and instead use direct voting with a ranked ballot.

December 2 the Ontario Liberals will announce the round-by-round results.


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