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Two more Wynne cabinet ministers say they won't run again in next June's Ontario election

Toronto Star logo Toronto Star 2017-10-06 Rob Ferguson - Queen's Park Bureau
Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, left, and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne share a laugh during the tabling of the provincial budget in February 2017. Matthews and Treasury Board President Liz Sandals have announced they do not plan to seek re-election. © Rick Madonik Deputy Premier Deb Matthews, left, and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne share a laugh during the tabling of the provincial budget in February 2017. Matthews and Treasury Board President Liz Sandals have announced they do not plan to seek re-election.

Premier Kathleen Wynne will be running for re-election next June 7 without two more cabinet ministers, including her confidante and Deputy Premier Deb Matthews of London.

Matthews and Treasury Board President Liz Sandals, a former education minister, announced Friday they will leave elected office when the campaign begins.

Both maintained they have confidence in Wynne, who is trailing the Progressive Conservatives in most polls and facing criticism from segments of the business community for raising the minimum wage to $14 next January and $15 in 2019.

“I am confident…the people of Ontario will give her and the team the mandate to continue to serve,” Matthews said in a Twitter statement, noting she will continue to serve as co-chair of the Liberal re-election campaign.

“Despite the progress to date, there is much more to do,” added Matthews, the MPP for London North Centre.

Sandals, 69, said she made “the difficult decision to retire” after a summer of discussion with her husband and children. She has been in elected politics for 30 years at the local and provincial levels.

“This was a challenging decision to make because, while I’m ready to become a full-time grandmother, I’ve never had more faith in Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberal Party.”

Sandals and Matthews follow Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid, who revealed last month he won’t run for re-election but expressed support for Wynne as the “best alternative.”

Duguid, 55, had a mild heart attack in 2016, calling it a reminder he is “mortal.”

Wynne also lost environment minister Glen Murray during the summer, as he quit cabinet and his Toronto Centre seat to head the Pembina Institute.

The pending retirements have strategic implications for the Liberals, in power at Queen’s Park since 2003, heading into the election where Wynne will seek a second majority.

Matthews is the lone surviving Liberal MPP in London — once a party stronghold — where the New Democrats have gained two ridings in recent years. Progressive Conservatives hold the seats surrounding London.

Sandals represents Guelph, coveted by Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner, who is hoping for a breakthrough in the spring vote.

The announcements give the ministers’ Liberal riding associations time to line up candidates as the governing party, struggling in the polls, fights off challenges from the Conservatives and the NDP’s Andrea Horwath.

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