By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Liberal leadership hopeful Kathleen Wynne may have won the Hamilton delegate contest over the weekend, but former Windsor MPP Sandra Pupatello won more delegates across the region, while Mississauga MPP Harinder Takhar finished third.
Wynne, the Don Valley East MPP, captured 30 delegates from the city’s area Liberal riding associations in the Jan. 13 vote, while Pupatello received 25 votes in a race that was expected to be Wynne’s to lose.
“Sandra’s campaign ran a close second to Wynne when everyone said Wynne’s team would dominate the area,” said Derek Holbrook, president of the Hamilton Centre provincial Liberal riding association. “We were incredibly excited that we were able to completely dominate the city.”
Takhar a had a strong third-place showing with 22 votes. Gerard Kennedy and Eric Hoskins both had four votes, while Charles Sousa captured two votes.
In the Hamilton East-Stoney Creek vote, Takhar won eight delegates out of the 16 available, said Nithy Ananth, president of the provincial riding association. Kennedy took five votes, while Pupatello finished with three.
“It’s not really a surprise,” said Ananth. “There are some very hard workers here supporting Takhar.”
In Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, Wynne, who is backed by Liberal cabinet minister and local MPP Ted McMeekin, topped the delegate count with seven votes, followed by Pupatello with four, and Takhar and Hoskins with two each. Kennedy had one vote.
Pupatello won the Hamilton Centre race with six delegates, followed closely by Wynne with five, Takhar with two, and Kennedy, Hoskins, and Sousa with one each.
Holbrook calculated that Pupatello won the most delegates from the ridings, and university clubs, including McMaster, stretching from Niagara Falls to Burlington with 53 votes, while Wynne came second with 48. Takhar finished in a close third.
Provincially, Wynne remains a close second to Pupatello’s 504 delegate count with 463 votes, followed by Kennedy at 257, and Takhar with 244 votes. Sousa has 198, and Hoskins brings up the rear with 104 votes. The independents captured 67 votes, composed of supporters of Glen Murray who is now backing Wynne.
But as Ananth pointed out, winning the delegate count doesn’t guarantee a leadership win. He said in 1996, an unknown Dalton McGuinty was sitting in fourth place, and Kennedy was leading the delegate election. After the convention, McGuinty had won the leadership, with Kennedy a bridesmaid.
“This will come down to the wheeling and dealing behind the scenes,” said Ananth. “There could be some surprises on the convention floor.”
He said the delegates are only committed to the candidates on the first ballot vote. After that, the delegates are free to support whomever they want.
“Things can change, and I think we will see some surprises,” said Ananth.
The Liberal leadership convention is scheduled for Jan. 25 to 26 at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre at Maple Leaf Gardens. The vote will be held on Jan. 26.