One of the candidates for the Ontario Liberal leadership has dropped out to throw his support behind the perceived frontrunner.
Glen Murray – a former Winnipeg mayor who most recently served as Ontario's minister of training, colleges and universities – announced Thursday morning that he is now backing Kathleen Wynne.
"I simply believe she is the best person to serve as Premier of Ontario," Mr. Murray said during a press conference at the University of Toronto, noting that he and Ms. Wynne share "many of the same values."
Mr. Murray said he was up until 3:00 a.m. the night previous making sure his supporters backed his decision, and expressed confidence that most of his organizers will follow him to Ms. Wynne.
His announcement was made at a press conference at which Ms. Wynne also announced that former minister John Wilkinson, one of the province's most prominent rural Liberals, is joining her campaign as a co-chair.
Ms. Wynne and Mr. Wilkinson touted their past work together to bridge urban-rural divides, recalling that when in caucus together she would bring fellow Toronto MPPs to his Perth-Wellington riding to enhance their understanding of the rest of the province. Mr. Wilkinson, who has recently co-chaired a panel on the future of the province's horse-racing industry, said he believes Ms. Wynne is the candidate best able "to bring people together."
The endorsements add to Ms. Wynne's momentum heading into a pivotal weekend in the leadership contest, when Liberals across Ontario will vote to select delegates for their party's convention later this month.
Mr. Murray has been a strong presence at the series of Liberal leadership debates, the final one of which was held on Wednesday night. But he has struggled to build support, and appeared on pace to be running last coming out of this weekend.
Ms. Wynne, meanwhile, is said to have the strongest on-the-ground organization among the seven candidates. The support of Mr. Murray, a fellow Toronto Liberal, will help her continue to build the sense of momentum that appears to have supplanted Sandra Pupatello as frontrunner.
Meanwhile, the support from Mr. Wilkinson – a former two-term MPP who previously considered a leadership bid of his own – will help Ms. Wynne push back against concerns that her appeal is too limited outside Toronto.