Premier comes to town to talk up local Liberal candidate – she might have a “star” candidate on her hands.

By Pepper Parr

February 8, 2014


It was the third visit Kathleen Wynne has made to Burlington since being “crowned” leader of the Liberal Part of Ontario and therefore Premier of the province.  The previous Premier, Dalton McGuinty, had resigned and left Wynne with the equivalent of a South African necklace – and if you don’t know what one of those is – you’re lucky; they are nasty things that usually result in the painful death of the wearer.

Premier Kathleen Wynne talking to seniors at Martha’s Landing.

Wynne has proven to be somewhat plucky and while her survival is certainly not guaranteed come the next election, which she told a Burlington audience this afternoon would be “sooner rather than later”.

Wynne was in town to show off the spiffy new candidate the Liberals nominated last week. Eleanor McMahon was declared the Liberal candidate for Burlington and will run against current MPP Jane McKenna.  It will be a much different race for McKenna whenever the election takes place.

Martha’s Landing residents got a first hand look at Liberal candidate Eleanor McMahon.

McMahon has a touch that is seen often in politics – but with this woman it seems more real than the many this reporter has watched.  Both Wynne and McMahon worked the room at the Martha’s Landing Retirement home on Lakeshore Road.  But the two have distinctly different styles.

Premier Wynne is respectful, direct and listens carefully to people – but she doesn`t have the almost intimate one on one touch that McMahon works from.

Both are respectful, direct and sincere.  Wynne will lean forward and listen carefully, smile and offer a pleasantry.  She’s the Premier, meets thousands of people and has a lot on her plate. 

McMahon moves right in on the person she is talking to.  She sat with the seniors and took both their hands and mentioned how they reminded her of her Mother.  The empathy was – remarkable.  It was something like a good Catholic stepping into a confessional and unburdening themselves of all their cares and worries.

These people loved it.  Every one of them felt in their hearts that they were with someone who cared about them.  And it was real.

McMahon has been around the political ring more than once; this is not a new gig for her.  She has worked with more than one Prime Minister and knows what politics is about.  Eleanor is my side of 40, in good shape with a clear sense of who she is and what a Liberal government is supposed to be about: fiscally responsible and compassionate.

Premier Wynne added later in the meeting that she is also very persistent in working to get what she wants.  McMahon has done work as a volunteer on roads and bicycles and pestered Wynne endlessly when she was Minister of Transportation.  There are a couple of thousand cyclists in Halton who will mount their bikes and work hard for Eleanor McMahon.

Brian Heagle, who desperately wanted the Progressive Conservative nomination that went to McKenna, might take some solace now in not getting that nod.   Had he won he would have had to run against McMahon and then join the ranks of those one term politicians.

While it is very early in the game – and in the world of politics a weekend is the equivalent to six months – a betting man would put real money on McMahon taking the Burlington seat provincially – even if Premier Wynne fails to earn the majority she feels she has earned.

Wynne did well in her short visit.  She spent part of the forenoon in Mississauga and was on her way to Niagara Falls where there is a tough race.  In her comments to the people at Martha`s Landing Wynne said all the usual – it is about jobs; the economy is still not as stable as we need it to be.  She talked up several of the governments initiatives, there are apparently 200 welder jobs begging for workers in Niagara, which fits in with her plans to get more training programs in place.

Wynne talked about her plans to develop broader reaching pension programs.  She has not been able to get the federal government to step up to the plate and do what most people see as the responsible thing – create programs that make it possible for people to set aside money for retirement.  With more than three-quarters of people working today not having anything other than the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Pension most observers agree that improvements are needed.  Wynne points out that pension plan changes are not a tax – it is a program that helps people to take care of themselves.

It isn’t easy to get a laugh out of Premier Kathleen Wynne. Here she remembers the story about long time ago Ontario Premier Mitch Hepburn and a manure spreader on a Rice Lake farm

Wynne said that Ontario is prepared to go it alone and come up with a pension plan  that meets the needs that are clearly identified but not being met.  She said what was is being worked out will be totally portable and that there are a number of other provinces prepared to work with Ontario.

Wynne talked with pride about the increase made to the minimum wage that will kick in this June. She added that she “couldn’t for the life of me understand why the NDP has not taken a position on this issue”.  Traditionally the NDP has always championed better wage rates.

The event on a brisk Canadian winter afternoon was about Eleanor McMahon.  You are going to see and hear a lot about this lady.  Make a point of listening to her and deciding for yourself if she is the person you want to represent you at Queen’s Park.

Background links:

McMahon named Liberal candidate

Premier does Burlington’s rib fest.

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4 comments to Premier comes to town to talk up local Liberal candidate – she might have a “star” candidate on her hands.

  • Randy Lipshitz

    I would really like to hear from McMahon why the Liberals don’t believe in getting rid of the deficit, especially in the face of a doubling of the provincial debt in the last ten years.

  • Shannon Gillies

    I think this article overestimates how much people vote for a candidate rather than a party when it comes to provincial elections. Eleanor McMahon seems like a qualified, likable individual, but as personable as she might be, she is the candidate for a party of which Burlington residents aren’t terribly fond. I can’t see voters here suddenly changing their tune just because a friendly Liberal candidate shows up at their door. The only possible way I can see Ms. McMahon winning the Burlington seat is if the Liberals decide to play a nasty, ugly political game with the hospital redevelopment, which is something I wouldn’t put past them. Need I remind you of the disgraceful one-day Deb Matthews Hospital Funding Threat tour of Burlington, Cambridge, and Milton before the budget vote in 2012?

  • Joe Real

    Reality Check! The conservatives have held this provincial riding for many years and will most likely continue to do so, as they are the party with fiscal value and responsibility. Has your memory slipped that the Liberals wasted millions of dollars on closing gas plants.

  • Zaffi

    Hello Mr. Parr
    I usually ignore your typos. However my last on this list needs mentioning.

    It seems you may have been in a rush getting this one out. Or perhaps one beer too many. There are some odd typos in this one.
    Liberasl on at least 2 occasions

    Here’s the problematic one.
    “Liberal candida”
    Unless you actually were having fun playing with metaphors.