Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Sandra Pupatello, a possible contender for leadership of the Ontario Liberals, on Oct. 30, 2007.

Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail

Sandra Pupatello, a former member of Premier Dalton McGuinty's cabinet, has all but jumped into the race to lead the Liberal Party, saying she would make the economy central to her campaign.

Ms. Pupatello's name has been mentioned frequently as a possible successor to Mr. McGuinty, who is retiring from politics after 16 years as Liberal Leader and nine as Premier. A major obstacle was removed when Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced on Wednesday that he plans to follow his boss out the door. Mr. Duncan and Ms. Pupatello have been good friends since their teens.

With the minority Liberal government facing defeat in the next provincial election, she said, the focus needs to be returned to the province's financial situation.

Story continues below advertisement

"I worry that nobody wants to talk about the economy," Ms. Pupatello told The Globe and Mail on Wednesday. "I am in the business community, and I hear why people are worried."

Ms. Pupatello, who most recently represented Windsor West, spent 16 years in government. She has been director of business and global markets at PricewaterhouseCoopers during the past year, a particularly tumultuous time for the Liberals. This allows her to distance herself from the government's fight with doctors and teachers and scandals over the province's air ambulance service and two cancelled gas plants.

If she wins the leadership, she would follow Christy Clark of B.C., Alberta's Alison Redford, and Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland and Labrador as recent female premiers who took office between elections. But before deciding whether to make such a "monumental move," she said she has to be certain she is better than her potential leadership rivals.

"If I truly believed that any of my colleagues that are in there could do just as good a job, I don't need to do this," she said. "I don't need the title."

Ms. Pupatello, who turned 50 this month, was a member of Mr. McGuinty's cabinet from the time the Liberals came to power in 2003. She was first elected an MPP in 1995, and was renowned around Queen's Park for her strong personality and fashion sense – big hair, stilettos and oversized jewellery.

She is also remembered for her tenacity and highly partisan attacks on opposition members. Former cabinet colleague George Smitherman, who had a tumultuous relationship with Ms. Pupatello, most memorably over the Samsung green energy deal, said he respects her as a straight shooter.

"She's a warrior," Mr. Smitherman said in an interview. "We had some notable differences of opinion. ... But notwithstanding that there was some fierceness from time to time, I hold her in high regard."

Story continues below advertisement

Tony Dean, who was cabinet secretary and head of the Ontario Public Service during much of Ms. Pupatello's time in cabinet, described her as a team player and a "very credible" potential candidate.

While she comes from the "somewhat smaller world of Windsor politics," he said, she has wide experience provincially and could adjust to being back in "the larger pond" with the right campaign team.

John Snobelen, a former cabinet minister in the Progressive Conservative government, remembers all too well what it was like to come up against Ms. Pupatello when the Liberals were in opposition. He recalled that she "just peeled me" one day in Question Period, but later smiled and asked him how things were going. "She understands the theatre of politics," he said.

Ms. Pupatello was one of Mr. McGuinty's most reliable attack dogs. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave him short shrift at their first meeting in 2006, Mr. McGuinty had Ms. Pupatello seek out reporters to deliver a blistering attack on Mr. Harper.

"I just feel it's totally inappropriate to spend time backslapping with Tories in a very partisan fashion and then give the Ontario Legislature the bum's rush," she said at the time.

With Mr. Duncan out of the running, a high-profile group of backroom Liberals is lining up behind his fellow Windsorite, Ms. Pupatello.

Story continues below advertisement

Sources told The Globe on Wednesday that the people encouraging the former economic development minister to run – and prepared to back her candidacy – include Labatt executive and former Premier's Office staffer Charlie Angelakos, former national campaign manager Gordon Ashworth, and consultant/media personality Warren Kinsella.

Mr. Duncan said he would support Ms. Pupatello's candidacy, and she would have unfettered access to the Liberals' considerable Windsor organization. Perhaps more importantly, she could run as a relatively centre-right candidate against more left-leaning contenders such as Municipal Affairs Minister Kathleen Wynne or Health Minister Deb Matthews, both of whom are considering launching campaigns.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies