Chris Bentley won’t vie for Liberal leadership post
London Community News
Energy Minister Chris Bentley, long seen as an heir apparent to Premier Dalton McGuinty, will not seek the Liberal helm and is quitting politics after the next election.
The 56-year-old Bentley — who Liberals admit took one for the team by bearing the brunt of opposition attacks over controversial gas plants cancelled before he was minister — made it official Thursday night in his riding of London West.
The well-regarded London lawyer is the second top minister this week to announce his departure from politics after considering a run at the top job in the wake of the 57-year-old McGuinty’s retirement announcement Oct. 15.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, 53, called it quits Wednesday, throwing his support behind former minister Sandra Pupatello, 50. Duncan won’t run again in Windsor—Tecumseh in a vote expected next spring, vacating the seat for Pupatello if, as expected, she contests the leadership.
Aside from Pupatello, the leading contenders in the Jan. 25-27 convention for delegates could be Municipal Affairs Minister Kathleen Wynne, 59, and Health Minister and London North Centre Deb Matthews, 58.
With polls suggesting NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is the most popular provincial politician in Ontario, some Liberals believe their best bet to remain in power is with a strong woman at the helm.
“It’s our only play,” confided one Grit strategist, noting Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, whose personal polling is poor even though his party does well, poses less of a threat than Horwath.
Others thinking about the leadership include Children and Youth Services Minister Eric Hoskins, 51; Training Colleges and Universities Minister Glen Murray, 55; Government Services Minister Harinder Takhar,; and former ministers George Smitherman, 48, and Gerard Kennedy, 52.
- Torstar News Service