A Fresh Start for the Ontario Liberal Party
This past weekend, 1,500 Ontario Liberals from across the province gathered for their largest Annual General Meeting (AGM) in 20 years. Members elected a new Executive Council, Party President and adopted a weighted-one-member-one-vote system.
One Member, One Vote
Members overwhelmingly voted to move ahead with the one-member-one-vote system, ditching the long-standing delegated conventions. Under the new system, members will cast their votes for their preferred leadership candidate using a ranked ballot system. This change comes after a wave of calls for a renewed system that makes voting more open and accessible. The adoption follows suit of the federal Liberals, who crowned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau under a direct election model.
Other notable adoptions over the weekend, includes the establishment of the Ontario Liberal Rural and Northern Commission and implementing measures to reduce event fees for low-income members.
McGarry to head the party into leadership process
Kathryn McGarry was elected as the new party President, defeating Natalie Hart and Fadi El Masry. McGarry served as Minister of Natural Resources and Transportation under the Wynne government. Outside of provincial politics, McGarry served a term as the Mayor of Cambridge. Other members elected to the Executive Council include Damien O’Brien as Executive Vice-President and Pankaj Sandhu as Secretary.
A Look ahead to Leadership
Yasir Naqvi and Nathaniel Erskine-Smith headlined the potential leadership hopefuls attending the AGM. Both organized well-attended social events and had teams visible throughout the weekend.
Other potential candidates were meeting with delegates as they explored the opportunity to get into the race including caucus members, Stephanie Bowman, Ted Hsu, and Adil Shamji. At the event, Shamji hosted a patients not profits booth to advance his months long advocacy campaign to protect the public health care system. The booth was perhaps the most visible policy criticism of the Ford government throughout the weekend.
Other big names, like Mississauga Mayor, and Chair of the Ontario Big City Mayors caucus, Bonnie Crombie and former federal Minister, Navdeep Bains engaged with delegates. While some liberals are yearning for a star candidate to join the race, any candidate will have to commit to years of hard work and attendance at community meetings across the province to help the party regain traction with the electorate.
For the Ontario Liberals, the groundwork for the 2026 election is just getting started. The new Executive Council will be tasked with determining the rules for leadership, including the timing of the vote, with an eye to putting a leader in place with time to introduce themselves to Ontarians.