Bonnie Crombie -- the mayor of Mississauga -- wants to lead the Liberal Party of Ontario. Martin Regg Cohn writes:
Crombie made big news last week as the mighty mayor who engineered Mississauga’s liberation from Peel Region. Score one for Her Worship, who persuaded the mighty premier to let her people go.
[Doug] Ford is crying foul. How dare Crombie pivot from mayor to premier quite so quickly on his watch?
“You can’t be … mayor and running for a leader,” Ford complained to reporters, peevishly if not indelicately: “You can’t put your butt on both sides of the fence.”
But that is exactly what Crombie is doing. And she is a force to be reckoned with:
Crombie first won election as an MP in 2008, but went down to defeat in the federal Liberal drubbing of 2011. Within months, she pivoted to Mississauga as a city councillor, ultimately winning the endorsement of Hazel McCallion to succeed her as mayor in 2014 (she won re-election last year with more than 78 per cent of the vote).
It’s a safe bet Crombie will be a “game changer,” in Ford’s parlance, for a Liberal leadership race that has so far fallen flat. More than any rival, she can claim name recognition and fundraising cognition; she is good at governing but also not bad at goading, thanks to her years in opposition.
Crombie is a centrist:
“It’s very important that the Liberal party be brought back to the centre, which is where our roots are,” she told the Star. Boasting that she has no baggage from the previous Liberal governments of Kathleen Wynne or Dalton McGuinty, Crombie argued that the party “moved too far to the left” under their rule.
She believes the Liberals’ leftward drift helped drive voters into Ford’s arms. But history records that the McGuinty and Wynne Liberals won majority governments when they ate the NDP’s lunch with a lurch to the left; perhaps Crombie, like Ford, is less preoccupied by today’s New Democratic Party.
Indeed, she seems more focused on geography than ideology. Despite her mayoral antecedents, Crombie is mindful of the Liberal party’s rural deficit ― the party has been in a rut outside the big cities since the McGuinty years.
It's hard to predict the future. But one thing is certain: Doug Ford is worried.