Q&A: Kathleen Wynne on PDAs, whether she’s pissed at Dalton McGuinty, and jogging, of course

Q&A: Kathleen Wynne on PDAs, whether she’s pissed at Dalton McGuinty, and jogging, of course

Premier Kathleen Wynne captured enough seats to do just about anything she wants. Revelations, prognostications and a little trash talk from Ontario’s most powerful person

Q&A: Kathleen Wynne on PDAs, whether she's pissed at Dalton McGuinty, and jogging, of course
Q&A: Kathleen Wynne on PDAs, whether she's pissed at Dalton McGuinty, and jogging, of course

Scandals coming out your ears, an electorate that can be hostile to Liberals and lesbians, and you win in a landslide. What in the blazes happened?
We were optimistic, and our big ideas—infrastructure investment, a retirement pension plan and a regional transit strategy—resonated with Ontarians.

Hudak’s platform—“I can’t do math and I’ll fire you”—probably didn’t hurt. How good did it feel to trounce him to the point of resignation?
I know Tim as a dad and neighbour. He had a very rough night, and I don’t take any pleasure from his personal pain.

Yet you’re not dropping your slander lawsuit, which seems like kicking a guy when he’s down. Under what circumstances would you relent?
When he issues an apology and a retraction.

Horwath: where did she go wrong?
She didn’t have a plan. Frankly, I was surprised at her lack of preparedness.

Who would you rather have a beer with?
I’d have a cup of tea—rooibos is my favourite of late—with either one.

The public doesn’t know much about the province’s first lady. How would you describe Jane Rounthwaite?
As far as our political life goes, I’d say she’s organized, determined and practical. At home, I’d describe her as funny, sardonic and a person of substance.

You hugged but didn’t kiss Jane when you pulled her up onstage during your victory speech. Do you have an agreement about PDA?
We didn’t discuss it beforehand. Over the years we’ve developed our own way of being together in public. Ours is an inclusive, accepting province, but Ontarians—whether they’re hetero­sexual, homosexual or other—have different degrees of comfort. We want to respect that.

Whose post-victory ­congratulations were most surprising?
George Takei, who played Sulu on Star Trek, got in touch through Twitter. That was awesome!

What did the PM have to say?
I have not yet heard from Stephen Harper. Perhaps his note’s in the mail.

Ford called from rehab but got voice mail. Were you screening your calls?
No, I think my staff got that call and didn’t ­realize it was him. I’m grateful for all of the ­congratulations.

You met Hillary Clinton recently. What was your icebreaker?
We talked about the challenge of packing clothes for the campaign trail. Men can just change their tie. For women, it’s not so simple. We also discussed how in many places in the U.S. the election of a gay female is not yet possible.

The gas plant fiasco: in how many different ways—­flowers, gift cards, teary ­midnight drunk dials—has McGuinty tried to apologize?
Look—Dalton and I have a great relationship. I’ve taken ­responsibility and so has he; he’s ­testified and so have I.

Noted. But on a scale of one to 10, how pissed were you at him?
I really don’t see it that way. He did amazing things. He also made mistakes.

Okay, I’m going to put you down as a five.
Ha! You can put this down: my job is to make sure nothing like that ever ­happens again.

The teachers’ contracts expire in August. How can you possibly play hardball given how crucial their support was to your victory?
The unions knew from the outset that we’d have no new money. Will negotiations be tough? Absolutely. But we’re starting with the facts already laid out.

You’ve promised to eliminate the $12.5-billion deficit by the 2017–18 fiscal year. The provincial debt is somewhere near $280  billion. Can you categorically state that you won’t sell the LCBO or Hydro One?
We’ve hired TD’s Ed Clark to make sure that our assets, including the LCBO, are providing revenue in an optimized way. I won’t pre-empt his recommendations.

You have OPP protection 24/7. How suffocating does that get?
It’s been a challenge. I’m pretty independent, and not having that space required a major adjustment. The officers even come with me on my morning run, usually on bikes.

Ever sneak out for a midnight jog?
Um…no comment.

It’s been a non-stop hustle for you since the Liberal leadership ­convention in January 2013. Once the ­budget passes, will you get some downtime?
Not this summer, which will be too busy, but possibly in the fall. Get me a canoe and a lake and I’m good.