Kathleen Wynne says Ontario voters have moved beyond race, sexual orientation

Incoming Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne says it’s “historic,” “exciting” and “great” that she will soon be the country’s first openly gay premier, but don’t expect her to talk about it too much.

“I’m not a gay activist,” she said at a press conference on Sunday, when asked about her ‘historic breakthrough.’ “I’m talking about it today because you’ve asked, but I’m not going to spend the next month talking about this.”

But if her win can make young gay people feel less frightened and see possibilities in the world, that’s a wonderful thing, she said.

For her, the fact that there will soon be six female premiers is “huge.”

“Maybe now we’re reaching a critical mass,” she said. “Maybe now it can just be whether you’ve got what it takes to get your name on the ballot and whether you can win in a riding, as opposed to whether you’re male or female. Maybe this will make a difference.”

Wynne’s election speech at the convention drew thunderous cheers from her fellow Liberals. When she addressed the question of whether or not Ontario is ready to elect a gay premier—which she’d been asked repeatedly throughout the campaign—her chief rival, Sandra Pupatello, stood up and applauded.

Here is that excerpt:

I want to put something on the table: Is Ontario ready for a gay premier? You’ve heard that question. You’ve all heard that question, but let’s say what that actually means: Can a gay woman win? That’s what it means.

So, not surprisingly, I have an answer to that question. When I ran in 2003, I was told that the people of North Toronto and the people of Thorncliffe Park weren’t ready for a gay woman. Well, apparently they were.

You know, there was a time, not that long ago, when most of us in this leadership race would not have been deemed suitable. We would have been deemed unsuitable. A Portugese-Canadian, an Indo-Canadian, an Italian-Canadian, female, gay, Catholic. Most of us could not have hoped to stand on this stage. But the province has changed. Our party has changed.

I do not believe that the people of Ontario judge their leaders on the basis of race, sexual orientation, colour or religion. I don’t believe they hold that prejudice in their hearts. They judge us on our merits, on our abilities, on our expertise, on our ideas. Because that is the way everyone deserves to be judged. That is how we want our children, our grandchildren, our nieces, our nephews to be judged. All of us want to be judged on those things.

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