Doug Ford insiders say she’s a menace — and now Bonnie Crombie is poised to hunt the Ontario Liberal management

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie is launching an exploratory bid to guide the Ontario Liberals with an eye fixed towards defeating Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives in 2026.

“I’m the one individual serious about placing their title ahead who has governing expertise and who has gone toe-to-toe with the Ford authorities — whether or not it’s over the housing affordability disaster, well being care and training or the local weather change disaster,” stated Crombie.

“I’ve been assembly and talking with Liberals throughout the province and plenty of of them have inspired me to run,” the three-term mayor advised the Star on the eve of creating her management intentions official Tuesday.

A Crombie candidacy is considered as an existential menace in Progressive Conservative circles.

“She is a formidable opponent for us,” conceded a senior Tory, who, like different Ford insiders interviewed, spoke confidentially so as to focus on inside deliberations.

“We now have six seats in Mississauga and 5 in Brampton that Bonnie Crombie might put in play,” the official stated, conscious of how the Liberals dominated Better Toronto Space ridings whereas in energy from 2003 till 2018.

One other high-ranking PC insider agreed Crombie — who can be chair of Ontario’s Large Metropolis Mayors, which represents city centres with a inhabitants of 100,000 or extra — would upend the electoral map for the governing celebration.

“She’s a 905 mayor and by the subsequent election, we’ll have been in for 2 phrases — and, keep in mind, governments generally tend to defeat themselves,” the second Tory confided.

Crombie, one of many best-known municipal politicians in Canada, stated “it’s essential that the Liberal celebration be introduced again to the centre, which is the place our roots are.”

Crombie — a former Liberal MP who was by no means part of the governments of former premiers Kathleen Wynne or Dalton McGuinty — stated the provincial celebration “moved too far to the left” lately.

“That alienated individuals who maybe voted for the Ford authorities in consequence,” the mayor stated of the Grits’ chasing of conventional New Democratic Get together voters.

“Being a centrist myself — and the best way I managed town — would deliver these folks again to the centre and provides them another,” she stated, emphasizing the Grits have to broaden their enchantment in each city and nation.

“The Liberal celebration is a celebration of bigger cities and municipalities … (however) we now have to have insurance policies that handle rural points in addition to city points to deliver them again into the fold.”

Having badly misplaced elections to Ford’s Tories in 2018 and once more final yr, the Grits, who lack enough seats in the legislature for official party status, are looking for a leader to revive them.

Up to now, Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith (Seashores-East York) is the lone confirmed candidate within the Dec. 2 contest, which might be determined utilizing a brand new one-member, one-vote ranked-ballot system much like how the Tories elect their leaders.

Others exploring bids are Liberal MP Yasir Naqvi (Ottawa Centre), a former provincial cupboard minister and Ontario Liberal Get together president, and MPPs Stephanie Bowman (Don Valley West), Ted Hsu (Kingston and the Islands) and Adil Shamji (Don Valley East).

Candidates should pay a $100,000 entry charge plus a $25,000 refundable deposit.

Crombie stated she would stay as mayor earlier than making a ultimate resolution to formally enter the race later this yr.

Recent from perhaps her greatest political triumph — convincing Ford to free Mississauga from the shackles of Peel Region — she is using excessive.

Actually, some Tories had hoped that important victory may persuade her to stay in municipal politics.

“My actual phrases to … Mayor Bonnie Crombie, I stated, ‘Try to be doing cartwheels’ — once I talked to her final night time — ‘all the best way down Freeway 10,’” Ford advised reporters Friday in St. Catharines.

Crombie, who received 77.1 per cent of the favored vote in final October’s election by campaigning for an unbiased Mississauga, was not shy about her willingness to work with a rival to attain outcomes.

“I satisfied him that it was the precise factor to do — that the taxpayers had been additional forward with smaller, nimble, revolutionary cities which are extra versatile, that might subject permits sooner as a result of … there can be much less crimson tape,” she stated.

“So I believe that that resonated with him.”

However she emphasised the 2 leaders have many coverage variations.

That features Crombie’s concern with Ford’s numerous housing payments that might shortchange municipalities billions of {dollars} in misplaced improvement prices.

His penchant for overriding native planning selections — and the controversial use of minister’s zoning orders in locations like Port Credit score — can be trigger for alarm.

“I’ve a really direct model that maybe is the crux of our … relationship. I don’t pull any punches,” Crombie stated.

“Typically I believe the premier sees that as criticism. I see it as very constructive enter.”

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter protecting Ontario politics. Observe him on Twitter: @robertbenzie


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