Bonnie Crombie seeks Ontario Liberal leadership


Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
Bonnie Crombie seeks Ontario Liberal leadership, denounces Doug Ford
Crombie says she's running for the Liberal leadership to replace Doug Ford.

Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Published May 22, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read
After securing Mississauga's split from Brampton, Mayor Crombie looks to take over Ontario's Liberal Party and take on Premier Doug Ford.
After securing Mississauga's split from Brampton, Mayor Crombie looks to take over Ontario's Liberal Party and take on Premier Doug Ford. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
After securing Mississauga’s divorce from Brampton, Bonnie Crombie is looking to trade up from mayor to premier. Crombie is seeking the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party.

A campaign website launched Monday morning explains why she is running and attacks Premier Doug Ford, who just granted Crombie’s wish to see Mississauga split from Peel Region.

“I’m a centrist by nature. I’m socially progressive, but fiscally responsible,” the website states. “Ontario is a tipping point. We cannot afford more of what this government has done over the past five years.”

The website wasn’t up for long though and was taken down shortly after the Sun contacted Crombie for comment about the site.

The 63-year-old former MP has been mayor of Ontario’s third-largest city since 2014. With deep roots in both federal and provincial Liberal circles, Crombie would be a formidable contender for the post and a strong foe for Ford.

The question: Why on earth would Crombie want to run?

She’s just been given something she has longed for, taking Mississauga out of Peel Region and making it an independent city. When that takes effect on January 1, 2025, Crombie would also have the strong mayor powers that the province has already granted to Toronto and Ottawa.

Last October, Crombie handily won re-election in Mississauga and chances are — like her predecessor Hazel McCallion — she could have a long career in that office. Unlike McCallion, she would have an independent city and powers previous mayors have campaigned to get for years.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie has set her sights on becoming the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
Giving up the job before having a chance to guide Mississauga into its next chapter seems like an odd choice. It’s a choice made even odder when you look at the job she’d be leaving the mayor’s chair to seek.

There is no seat for the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party in the legislature at Queen’s Park, meaning no income beyond what the party can pay Crombie to replace her current salary of roughly $200,000 for serving as mayor and as a regional councillor for Peel. Right now, the Ontario Liberal Party is broke; they haven’t been able to turn around their fundraising and Elections Ontario data shows that the PC Party outperforms the Liberals in donations across all of Mississauga — and has for years.

Sure, Crombie could add new spark and excitement to the party. Her years of organizing for Liberal politicians, going back decades, would bring valuable experience and strength to the party, but would she have a chance to topple Ford?

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie put out this statement as part of the reason she is running to become the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie put out this statement as part of the reason she is running to become the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
A week is a lifetime in politics, so in three years anything can happen. But to say the Ontario Liberal Party is broken would be an understatement. If Crombie runs and wins, the work to rebuild what was the dominant party in provincial politics from 2003 through 2018 would be formidable.

This at a time when provincial Liberal parties, from Quebec to British Columbia, have become quaint distant memories or relics that no longer contest for power.

In the last two elections, the Ontario Liberals have failed to win official party status, meaning that technically, every MPP under the Liberal banner at Queen’s Park is considered an independent. The party won seven seats in 2018 with 19.5% of the popular vote and in 2022 won eight seats with 23.8% of the vote province wide.

Going from third to first would be a difficult but not impossible task; it’s what Justin Trudeau did federally in 2015 to the surprise of everyone, including many Liberals.

What would help Crombie in that task is something Trudeau didn’t have, an ineffective NDP leader heading up the official opposition. Marit Stiles just took over her party’s leadership earlier this year and to be blunt, has failed to launch.

Her attempts to generate buzz and take on the Ford government have been the same collection of tired issues that dominated the NDP’s campaign in 2022, the one that saw the party lose nine seats, many of them in long time NDP strongholds that went to Ford’s PC Party, including in Hamilton, Windsor and Timmins.

Crombie obviously sees that Stiles is weak and is hopeful that in three years, Ford is either weakened himself, has retired or has left Queen’s Park to try his luck at the federal level.

There are a lot of arguments for why Crombie shouldn’t make this move, but there are many in favour, as well.


Hall of Fame Member
Sep 6, 2015
Olympus Mons
“I’m a centrist by nature. I’m socially progressive, but fiscally responsible,” the website states."

Well technically, that makes you a Progressive Conservative.
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Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
Bonnie Crombie looks to recover after clumsy Liberal leadership launch
The entire narrative of the website is now different from what had been posted earlier

Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Published May 23, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie has set her sights on becoming the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
To say that the launch of Bonnie Crombie’s leadership bid for the Ontario Liberal Party didn’t go as planned would be an understatement.

Crombie’s carefully planned launch with a positive piece in the Liberal friendly Toronto Star on Tuesday morning was interrupted by the Toronto Sun crashing the party.

Rumours of Crombie running have been floating since last June’s disastrous provincial election results for the Liberals. The party once again failed to win enough seats to earn official party status after 15 years of running the province.

Crombie’s name has been raised since the June 2 vote, but she went forward to run again as mayor of Mississauga, a position she has held since 2014, when the October municipal elections came around.

Yet despite connected Liberals dismissing her ambition as a politician just enjoying their name being out in the public, the drumbeat grew louder. Even two weeks ago, as Crombie was holding court at the federal Liberal convention, one plugged in Lib said, “She tells one person she’s running and the next that she’s not.”

Still, by this past weekend, chatter of Crombie’s pending announcement went from a whisper to a scream.

Tuesday was the day Crombie would announce her intentions, seemed to be the popular wisdom. One Liberal texted early Monday to say, “Hearing she might actually make it official tonight.”

Asked directly about all the speculation about her jumping into the race, Crombie neither confirmed nor denied that an announcement was coming.

“Hi Brian, lots of speculation. Have a great day. Bonnie,” read the text.

A short time later, a key Liberal shared Crombie’s campaign website which had just gone live. Under a section titled “Why I’m Running,” Crombie explained that she has heard from people across the province on issues like health care, education and affordability.

“Under this government they have made things worse through cutbacks and underfunding of key public services,” Crombie said.

A quick text to Crombie had a reply that seemed surprised and ended up with the website shutdown.

“Hmmm. Not sure who put that up. Let me check,” Crombie texted.

A short time later, the website was down. Obviously, this was the official website of the Crombie campaign, and it went live early. So early. in fact, that it skipped over the whole charade that she wasn’t running and was just setting up an “exploratory committee.”

After sitting dormant for several hours, Crombie’s website went live again late Monday but instead of explaining why she is running to be Ontario’s next Liberal leader, it explained why she is considering the idea including listing the names of 40 current and former MPs, MPPs, candidates and party activists.

“I’m the only person thinking about putting their name forward who has governing experience and who has gone toe-to-toe with the Ford government,” the website stated.

The entire narrative of the website was different from what had been posted for several hours earlier in the day.

It’s not the launch Crombie wanted, it’s not the launch that her team carefully mapped out. Instead of sprinting out of the gate, she stumbled.

There’s no doubt she can and will recover from this clumsy start, though her opponents will hope this is a trend rather than a one-off.

Crombie will be a formidable candidate in the Ontario Liberal leadership. Her entry immediately changes the calculus of the existing candidates – MPP Ted Hsu and MPs Yasir Naqvi and Nathaniel Erskine-Smith.

If she wins – not a sure thing – she will be a formidable opponent for Doug Ford despite not having a seat in the legislature.

The politician who should feel the most immediate threat from a Crombie win would be Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles, who has failed to launch since taking over party leadership earlier this year. Unlike Stiles, Crombie knows how to command the attention of the media.

One thing is clear, Crombie’s entry just made a slowly plodding leadership race much more interesting.


Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
Crombie stumbles, backtracks in her first week of Liberal leadership race
Will the real Bonnie Crombie please stand up?

Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Published May 29, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read
Ontario Liberal voters would be right to ask who the real Bonnie Crombie is.

Will the real Bonnie Crombie please stand up?

We aren’t a full week into the Mississauga mayor’s official campaign to become leader of Ontario’s Liberal Party and she’s already in trouble. First, she had her failure to launch over the Victoria Day long weekend.

In that instance, her team prematurely posted her campaign website saying that she was running for leader, only to take it down when contacted for comment by The Toronto Sun.

Later that day, a new website went up, but this one didn’t say she was running, it said she was exploring a run for the leadership.

Last Tuesday, Crombie did a series of interviews on her “prospective” run and laid out where she would fit into Ontario’s political landscape. In several interviews, she said that she was a centrist and especially on fiscal issues would govern from the centre-right.

That’s been fertile ground for successful Canadian Liberals like Jean Chretien — prime minister for a decade — or Dalton McGuinty, who was Ontario’s premier for nine years. Crombie’s comments had a lot of centrist Liberals in Ontario nodding in agreement, thinking she was on the right path.

One of her opponents in the Ontario Liberal leadership race, federal MP Nate Erskine-Smith, thought she was on the wrong path and said so.

“I’m not leaving a progressive federal Liberal Party to protect an unambitious status quo. If I lead the Ontario Liberals, we won’t govern from the centre-right,” he posted online.

That was enough to snap Crombie back into the progressive line and have surrogates disavow her claims of leading from the centre-right in a fiscally responsible manner. On Friday morning, the Queen’s Park Observer, an insider newsletter covering all things provincial, quoted a Crombie confidant saying she was overwhelmed with the media attention and misspoke.

“It was like trying to drink from a fire hose,” the source close to Crombie to the Observer. “Ninety-nine-point-nine per cent of them, she was on. But even the most polished politician that you put through that type of grinder — it’s a lot to ask of them.”

So much for Crombie being the front-runner if she’s adjusting her stance based on the tweets of someone her supporters claim she will easily beat.

And if that is how she reacts to the tweet of a lone MP, will Crombie be able to withstand the onslaught of attacks that will come her way if she wins the Ontario Liberal leadership and has to take on Doug Ford’s Big Blue Machine?

There is no doubt that Crombie is a formidable presence in GTA politics. She’s been mayor of Mississauga, the third-largest city in Ontario, since 2014, and was previously the MP for Mississauga—Streetsville.

Here’s the thing, though: while that gets you lots of headlines in Toronto-area media, it doesn’t win you votes in Timmins, in Ottawa, in Hamilton, Chatham, Sarnia or Thunder Bay. To win the leadership of the Liberal Party, you need to win in those locations.

Crombie launched her “exploratory committee” with a lot of names from the past centred in and around the GTA who will back her but won’t necessarily be selling memberships.

By contrast, Yasir Naqvi, the MP for Ottawa Centre — a former MPP for that same constituency and a one-time president of the Ontario Liberal Party — will launch his leadership bid this coming Saturday. In addition to events in Ottawa and Mississauga on the same day, sources say that Naqvi will launch with 70 on-the-ground field organizers, not a list of people who once did things for the party.

Over this past weekend, Ted Hsu officially launched his campaign in front of hundreds of supporters in Kingston, including Rob Baker, guitarist of The Tragically Hip. Hsu is a former MP turned MPP with connections across eastern Ontario.

Finally, Erskine-Smith has already officially registered and, like Crombie, has a base in the GTA but comes from the progressive side of the party which at this point seems dominant.

While Crombie brings name recognition for the Toronto-based media and an apparent star power, there is no guarantee that she can or will win the Ontario Liberal leadership race.

Especially if she continues to stumble like she did last week.


Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
Mississauga mayor makes Ontario Liberal leadership bid official
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Published Jun 14, 2023 • 1 minute read

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie officially launched a bid to become leader of the Ontario Liberals, saying she wants to renew, rebuild and re-energize the party.

Crombie becomes the fourth contestant in a race that includes Toronto MP Nate Erskine-Smith, MP and former Ontario cabinet minister Yasir Naqvi and current provincial caucus member and former MP Ted Hsu.

Ontario Liberals are set to vote for their new leader through ranked ballots in late November with the results to be unveiled on Dec. 2.

Crombie has been the mayor of Mississauga since 2014 and previously served as a Liberal MP from 2008 to 2011.

She launched an “exploratory committee” three weeks ago with an eye toward a leadership bid.

Crombie said in a Wednesday speech to launch her candidacy that she has had conversations with Liberals across the province who say the party needs to return to a “big-tent” approach.

“We need to renew our commitment with Ontarians that the Ontario Liberal Party is representative of the whole province, from our northern and rural communities to our small towns and big cities,” she said in her remarks to supporters.

“We need to rebuild our party’s aging infrastructure and modernize it to compete in today’s fast-paced political environment. That includes raising the money necessary to compete head to head with the other parties.”

A perceived front-runner, she has already drawn criticism from fellow candidate Erskine-Smith, who said that Crombie’s assessment that the former Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne moved too far left suggests “unambitious” leadership.

The party has said it will host at least five debates around the province during the race.

Adil Shamji, who holds one of the Liberals’ seven seats in the legislature, is also exploring a potential leadership bid.


Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
Crombie stumbles again in launching her Liberal leadership bid
Crombie botched her soft launch then stumbled on her official launch to lead Ontario's Liberals.

Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Published Jun 15, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 3 minute read

Bonnie Crombie tried to have a nice clean official launch in her bid for the Ontario Liberal leadership and she failed.

Just like with her unofficial launch for her “exploratory committee,” Crombie and her team tripped over their own feet.

At the same time as Crombie was announcing her official candidacy on Wednesday, an article was published by the Globe and Mail that had Crombie stumbling into controversy. She made comments about the Greenbelt that had fellow Liberals attacking her and Premier Doug Ford saying it’s good to hear she backs his position.

It’s not a good look for someone so widely perceived to be the front runner.

Crombie had wanted to get a splash out of her initial launch, which was scheduled for May 23, with a favourable write-up in the Liberal-friendly Toronto Star and a nice interview with CBC Radio’s Toronto morning show. Unfortunately for Crombie, the rumour mill suggesting she was set to run was in overdrive, lots of eyes were on her and so when her campaign team posted Crombie’s campaign website a day early, it let the cat out of the bag.

Beyond just publishing Crombie’s website early, they published the wrong version, the one explaining why she was in the race rather than the one announcing an exploratory committee.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie put out this statement May 22 as part of the reason she is running to become the next leader of the Ontario Liberal Party
A statement from Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie put on her Liberal leadership campaign website May 22.
That was the first stumble, but it wasn’t her last that week. In the ensuing media frenzy, Crombie gave several interviews where she said the Ontario Liberal Party has strayed too far to the left and she wanted to bring it back to the centre, even saying she would govern for the centre-right.

That drew criticisms from other leadership contenders and party activists and Crombie’s team was soon walking those remarks back.

Surely, Crombie’s team thought long and hard about making sure that Wednesday’s official launch went smoothly. Instead, Crombie and her team managed to self-sabotage yet again thanks to her comments in the Globe.

“There may be justification in opening up certain parts of the Greenbelt,” Crombie said.

Those comments allowed Ford to claim he had Crombie’s backing on an issue that is becoming key in the Ontario Liberal leadership.

“She’s endorsing our Greenbelt plan to build more homes,” Ford said Thursday morning.

In fairness to Crombie, she made other comments about how the Ford government didn’t consult enough on taking land out of the Greenbelt and that she would do proper consultations before doing land swaps. That context didn’t matter, Crombie was now under fire from inside the Liberal tent.

“Liberals created the Greenbelt. As leader, I will work to protect it,” fellow leadership contender Nate Erskine-Smith responded.

Liberal MPP Ted Hsu, also seeking the party leadership, said the Greenbelt is one clear way he is different from Crombie.

“I will protect the Greenbelt. If you don’t hold the line you cannot credibly protect it forever,” Hsu said.

And Yasir Naqvi, the Ottawa Liberal MP and former provincial candidate, called Crombie’s Greenbelt idea lazy. Incidentally, when Naqvi launched two weeks ago, he held events in Ottawa, Belleville and Mississauga and was able to pull a bigger crowd in Mississauga than Crombie, the current mayor of that city.

Some are portraying Crombie as the inevitable winner of this leadership race. She may have good name recognition, at least in the GTA, but her ability to campaign effectively and under a serious media spotlight is now in question.

If Crombie wins, and that remains a big if, she will be a serious contender against Ford but a lethal threat to NDP Leader Marit Stiles and her party’s ability to hold onto their role as the official opposition. Still, Ontario Liberals should be cautioned to test Crombie, and to examine the other candidates, before giving her the crown.

If she stumbles this much while launching her campaign, can she stand up to the gruelling battle that would be a general election?