By Robert BenzieQueen’s Park Bureau Chief
Tue., Oct. 12, 2021timer3 min. read
updateArticle was updated 9 hrs ago
The Ontario Liberals are banking on a prominent banker to safeguard one of their most valuable seats.
Stephanie Bowman will be the Liberal candidate in Don Valley West, a key Toronto riding held by former premier Kathleen Wynne since 2003.
Bowman, who recently resigned from the board of the Bank of Canada in order to enter politics, will be acclaimed Wednesday night as the Grit standard-bearer for the June 2 election.
“I really feel like Ontario is at a crossroads,” she said in an interview Tuesday, questioning the direction Premier Doug Ford’s first-term Progressive Conservatives are taking the province.
“We’re on a slippery slope right now with some of the decisions the Ford government is making on education, among other things.”
Having lived in Don Valley West for more than 25 years, Bowman acknowledged she has “very big shoes to fill” when Wynne retires next spring.
“I first met Kathleen when she was a school trustee. I have so much respect for her,” said the former Scotiabank senior vice-president.
Wynne, for her part, said she was “thrilled” Bowman is running for office.
“She brings a lot of experience and her heart is in the right place,” said the first woman to be premier of Ontario.
“She and I have had a number of conversations. She’s not steeped in partisan rhetoric,” said Wynne, who governed from 2013 until the Tories won power in 2018.
The former premier said Bowman is mindful that “it’s going to take a lot of work” to hold the riding for the Grits.
Prior to that, she easily defeated former PC cabinet minister David Turnbull in 2003 and then-PC leader John Tory in 2007.
Wynne, a tireless constituency advocate who won more than half of the votes in four of her five elections, transformed a one-time safe Tory seat into a Liberal stronghold over the past generation.
Even as premier, she was a popular fixture at local school graduation ceremonies and community events.
While the Conservatives have yet to nominate a candidate in the riding, the New Democrats announced Ontario’s former child advocate Irwin Elman, an independent provincial watchdog for youth, would carry their flag next spring.
“We are thrilled Irwin has found his home in the NDP. We share a firm commitment to making life better for folks,” New Democratic Leader Andrea Horwath said last week.
The Greens, meanwhile, have nominated Sheena Sharp, a former president of the Ontario Association of Architects and a specialist in environmentally friendly “net-zero buildings.”
Liberal strategists, speaking confidentially in order to discuss strategic matters, said Grit Leader Steven Del Duca is delighted that Bowman is on their team.
Del Duca, who has committed to fielding as many women as men in Ontario’s 124 ridings next June, insisted that Don Valley West be “a female-only nomination.”
Bowman is a “big get for us. (She has the) best business credentials of any candidate for any party in a long time. (She) brings huge experience in financial accountability (and) operational management,” said a senior party insider.
“We are building bench strength that demonstrates Ford’s weaknesses,” the official said, touting the candidacies of health-care advocates Dr. Nathan Stall in Toronto-St. Paul’s and Jill Promoli in Mississauga-Streetsville.
New Democrat Jill Andrew currently represents the Toronto riding, while the Mississauga constituency is held by Tory Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Nina Tangri.