It’s Gay Vs. Lesbian In Race For Ontario Liberal Party Chief

Election mania is dying down stateside but our neighbors to the north have an interesting campaign on their hands: The race for Ontario Liberal Party leadership is underway, and the two lead contenders are both openly gay.

Glen Murray, long active in LGBT causes, made history when he became mayor in Winnipeg in 1998, becoming the first gay mayor of  a major North American city. He stepped down from his current post as Ontario minister of training, colleges and universities before announcing his run at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens on Sunday, with partner Rick Neves at his side.

“The winner of this race will be the premier of a minority government with an opposition set to force an election,” Murray said at a press conference Sunday. “This race is about picking someone who has a clear agenda and a premier who is ready if forced to take the Liberals into election and win another mandate.”

Kathleen Wynne, a member of the Provincial Parliament from Don Valley West, also resigned from McGuinty’s cabine, announcing her candidacy on Monday. If she wins, she’d be the first lesbian and the first female premier in Ontario.

“What I see in Ontario is a diversity of people,” Wynne, 53, said in her campaign announcement. “What I want to make sure is that everyone in this province feels safe, whoever they are — that they feel they have a place in the province. That’s what equity is about.”

Wynne was married to a man until her late 30s and now lives with her partner, Jane Rounthwaite. She says being able to find middle ground in controversial issues “is a sorely needed skill at a time when some politicians choose to polarize issues—not listen to other opinions—to denigrate those that have different thoughts, behaving as though they alone possess the truth.”

Premier Dalton McGuinty announced last month that he was stepping down after after nine years. The Ontario Liberal Party will elect their new leader at a convention on January 25, though other candidates are expected to throw their hat in the ring before the November 23 deadline.

Photos: Canadian Film Centre, Shaun Merritt