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Wynne pledges to bring back Ontario legislature quickly if elected

Kathleen Wynne, a candidate for the Ontario Liberal leadership, at the Globe and Mail office on Jan. 17, 2013.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Kathleen Wynne, a frontrunner in the Liberal leadership race, says it is imperative for the Ontario legislature to get back to business as soon as possible to overcome the controversy surrounding prorogation.

"Am I happy the house is prorogued," Ms. Wynne told The Globe and Mail's editorial board on Thursday. "No, no one is happy."

The only "antidote" to prorogation, she said, is reopening the legislature at the soonest possible date, which happens to be Feb. 19.

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Ms. Wynne stopped short of criticizing Mr. McGuinty for suddenly proroguing the legislature last October, amid a mounting scandal over his decision to pull the plug on two gas-fired power plants.

"It was his decision," she said. "I believe he did it with absolutely the best intentions."

Ms. Wynne pointed out that Mr. McGuinty did not consult with members of his caucus before he made the decision to prorogue, forcing a legislative hearing into the cancelled gas plants to grind to a halt. To this day, the public remains in the dark over how much it cost taxpayers to cancel the plants in Mississauga and Oakville.

Ms. Wynne acknowledged that prorogation made a lot of Liberals "very angry." Had she been asked for her opinion, she said she would have pressed Mr. McGuinty for a detailed rationale.

"I would have wanted there to be a pretty indepth discussion," she said.

Over time, anger over the legislature not sitting has dissipated and people are more concerned about having it get back to business as soon as possible, she said.

"I think it is an uncomfortable place for MPPs not to be in the legislature at a time when we're scheduled to be there," she said.

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If she wins the leadership on the weekend of Jan. 26-27, she plans to re-open the legislature on Feb. 19. In positioning herself as the leadership contender who is ready to govern, Ms. Wynne is distinguishing herself from her chief rival, Sandra Pupatello.

Unlike Ms. Pupatello, who did not seek re-election in 2011 after 16 years as an MPP, Ms. Wynne has a seat in the legislature. Ms. Pupatello is positioning herself as the contender who is ready to fight an election and go up against Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath.

Ms. Pupatello, 50, heads into the leadership convention with the support of 27 per cent of elected delegates. She also has the support of one fifth of the 420 so-called ex officio delegates – a group that includes current and former Liberal MPPs in Ontario, Liberal MPs and riding presidents.

Ms. Wynne, 59, is neck-and-neck with 25 per cent of elected delegates. Another 72 ex-officio delegates have also endorsed her leadership.

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