When Ontario’s electorate handed Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government a stunning majority, the Liberal leader became the first woman ever to be elected premier of Ontario.
But Thursday night’s result also made Ms. Wynne the first openly gay elected premier in Canada.
Ms. Wynne’s victory at the polls came just over a week before the June 20 start of WorldPride, which Ontario plays host to this year. The 10-day festival is expected to attract about two million people and solidify Canada as a global leader in LGBT rights.
Brenda Cossman, co-chair of the WorldPride Human Rights Conference, said it is “extraordinary” Ms. Wynne became the first elected openly lesbian leader in Canada. The fact it was never an issue in the campaign speaks volumes about how far voters have come, she said.
“It does say something about the degree of social inclusion of gay and lesbians [in the province].”
Ms. Wynne echoed these sentiments in her victory speech on Thursday night, calling Ontario an inclusive province.
“That thing I said in my leadership about how Ontarians do not hold prejudices in their hearts, that Ontarians want to be an open and inclusive people, we have so proven that tonight,” she said. “I want our kids to feel that as they grow up in our schools and understand what a gift it is to live in a place like this, where anyone can be the premier.”
Christopher Cochrane, an assistant professor in the University of Toronto’s department of political science, said Ms. Wynne’s victory also made her the Commonwealth’s first elected head of government to be an openly gay woman.
In 2009, Iceland’s Johanna Siguroardottir became the world’s first openly gay female head of government after she was elected prime minister. But her country has only about 326,000 people. Ms. Wynne is the first openly gay woman to lead a government with a population anywhere near the size of Ontario’s roughly 13.5 million people.
“It was a nasty campaign, but at no point did anybody even consider making homophobic slurs, and I think that does say something about the extent of equality and social inclusion that gays and lesbians have received in the province,” Ms. Cossman said. “This kind of leadership can be nothing but a good role model for younger people who are either struggling with their own sexuality or are struggling with the bullies around them.”