Cheol Joon Baek
1) What does it mean for Toronto?
Rob Ford can just about kiss that casino dream goodbye.
Kathleen Wynne has never been a fan of the idea, saying all the right things as minister of municipal affairs, that it's Toronto council's decision. But privately she's lukewarm at best to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp's so-called "modernization" (read privatization) plan.
Her ideas about city-building were learned at the feet of the master, the late Jane Jacobs.
Even on the off chance that council says yes to a casino (more than a half-dozen other cities have done the math and already said no), ultimately it's the province's decision where, or if, a casino will be built.
And this is one issue on which Toronto Liberal caucus members, even those who didn't support Wynne's leadership bid, can agree.
Glen Murray, who dropped out of the leadership race to support Wynne and figures to occupy a prominent role in her cabinet (perhaps as her replacement in Municipal Affairs?) is in thick with the No Casino Toronto group. He said during his own leadership bid that he "would not support additional provincial funding for the infrastructure that would be necessary to support a Toronto waterfront or downtown casino." Whoa.
A few lobbyists in the employ of Las Vegas high rollers made their presence felt at the Libs' leadership convention this past weekend. They'll keep betting till the last chip. But theirs is a cause that's increasingly looking like a long shot.
There was an interesting development on Friday, barely noticed in the pre-convention hoopla: the province announced agreements to keep slots at Woodbine.
The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association has been saying that revenue from slots, which OLG wants to move to casinos, are crucial to keeping the second-largest agricultural sector in the province afloat.
On the committee that helped broker that deal is John Wilkinson, the former Liberal MPP who was Wynne's leadership campaign co-chair and is tapped to be her new chief of staff.
2) Can Wynne work with the NDP to avoid an election?
Perhaps a more accurate way to put the question is: will NDP leader Andrea Horwath go along to get along and try to use the balance of power to win concessions from a government headed by someone further left ideologically than Wynne's predecessor, Dalton McGuinty. Maybe not.
Horwath came out of the box firing on Monday, January 28, making demands for a public inquiry into the gas plant fiasco before Dalton McGuinty's name could be scraped off the premier's office door.
The demand could have been part of a strategy to simply reset the channel in the public's mind, take us back to what got us here in the first place. Can you say "prorogue"?
Horwath's got a dilemma. She's riding high in the polls. However, those numbers won't translate into many more seats than the 18 the NDP now holds. An election might very well end up in the current stalemate, only we'd be $300 million poorer (the cost of an election).
But Horwath can't afford to be seen as propping up a government whose list of scandals includes a couple of whoppers.
Teachers' unions have been radicalized over Bill 115. The animosity for Libs was visceral among educators protesting outside the Mattamy Centre.
Their backing in an election could turn the tide for the NDP, as it did in the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election.
But complicating matters for Horwath is the pressure she's getting from union leaders. Ontario Federation of Labour head Sid Ryan is among those who believe there's more to be won with an accord between Libs and NDP, formal or otherwise.
Says Ryan, "I have not heard any union leader say we should go to an election. I think most expect there should be some kind of agreement."
3) Where does Wynne's win leave PC leader Tim Hudak?
In a word: marginalized - if she and Horwath can get their act together, that is, and forge a working relationship.
There seems to be enough fear of what a Hudak minority government would look like - worse than Mike Harris - to push both leaders. But bad blood and mistrust left over from the last session could win out. None of the parties showed an inclination then to put their responsibility to the public ahead of narrow politics.
Hudak's got his own internal party problems. The more he tacks right with the release of out-there white papers, the more the money boys who want to see the PCs seize a bigger chunk of the middle cringe. Not even Hudak's supporters want an election, polls show. Worse for Hudak, most Ontarians reject key parts of his policy platform.
4) Who will be appointed finance minister?
Bay Street is watching this one.
She'll continue the deficit-cutting. Indeed, she was careful to stress her commitment to austerity despite her social justice leanings throughout the campaign.
But the pickings are slim. Two candidates who could ably fill the post, leadership rivals Gerard Kennedy and Sandra Pupatello, are out of the picture.
Deb Matthews, the former health minister and key campaign organizer for Wynne, could do the job.
And then there's Charles Sousa, the Mississauga MPP and leadership candidate whose delegates put Wynne over the top.
How much of Sousa's support for Wynne at the convention was tactical is an open question. It was pretty much a numbers game after Eric Hoskins decided to jump Sandra Pupatello's ship.
Sousa has a banking background but may be ideologically too far right if the premier-in-waiting is serious about implementing some of the recommendations of the social assistance review headed by Frances Lankin.
Some of the other views Sousa expressed during the race about bringing the TTC under Metrolinx, for example, don't jibe with Wynne's either.
Sousa also talked enthusiastically about development potential in the Ring of Fire during the campaign, a sensitive issue for First Nations with whom Wynne shares a close bond.
5) Just how did Wynne beat Sandra Pupatello anyway?
It was as much about style as about Sandra Pupatello, Wynne's main rival, being outsmarted and outperformed.
The Windsor girl is fond of saying that what you see is what you get with her. Apparently, a lot of delegates didn't like what they were seeing: someone who was not going to be as conciliatory as Wynne.
The behind-the-scenes arm twisting of party establishment types supporting Pupatello especially turned off a lot of delegates. Threats were flying about political futures, etc.
Turns out Pupatello was only in it for a good time, not a long time. She's gone back to her Bay Street job.
There was one magnanimous gesture before her exit, though. It happened just after Wynne was declared party leader. That's when Pupatello told the MPPs who supported her to get up off their asses and onto the stage for the customary show of solidarity shot for the cameras. They were slow to move.