Kate Graham enters Liberal leadership race


TORONTO — A former provincial Liberal candidate from southwestern Ontario says she is running to be party’s next leader.

Kate Graham, a 35-year-old Western University politics instructor, says she is entering the race to replace former premier and Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne.

Graham ran unsuccessfully for the Liberals in a London, Ont.-area riding, where she currently lives, during the 2018 provincial election.

In addition to her academic career and research, Graham also spent a decade as a public servant for the City of London.

Former Ontario deputy premier Deb Matthews and former Treasury Board president Eleanor McMahon have endorsed her.

The Ontario Liberal party suffered the worst defeat in its history in 2018, losing official party status and prompting Wynne’s resignation.

Former cabinet ministers Steven Del Duca, Mitzie Hunter, and Michael Coteau and one-time candidate Alvin Tedjo are also running for the party leadership.

Graham will start her campaign with a cross-province tour this month and says the party must listen to all Ontario residents as it rebuilds.

“I feel there is quite an appetite for change both in our party and in our province,” she said. “I also believe that the politics of this province has to change.”

Graham says people are disconnecting from politics because of its negativity and that has started to erode voter turnout.

“We know the nastiness and the division, it’s not helpful, it turns people off, it keeps people out,” she said. “It also makes it really hard for the people who step forward.”

Graham, who grew up in Exeter, Ont., said she is the only person currently in the race who is from outside of the GTA and is also the youngest candidate. Those are assets, she said.

“It makes me stand out from the pack,” she said. “If this is a campaign about change … I’m not sure that having spent a long time in the way things have always been done is necessarily the only kind of experience can be brought to this race.”

The party will select its next leader at a convention on March 7, 2020.

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press