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MPPs reluctant to declare leadership ambitions to replace McGuinty

Liberal cabinet ministers are reluctant to immediately announce they’ll enter the leadership race to replace Dalton McGuinty, who resigned last night as premier.

Environment Minister Jim Bradley, a 35-year veteran of the legislature, was the only cabinet minister to flatly rule out a run at the Liberal leadership.

Most cabinet ministers said it was too early to talk about leadership ambitions, but Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, who used to say he was too “charismatically challenged” to be leader, was the only one to admit he’s considering a run.

He called it a big decision, and when reporters pressed Duncan said he hasn’t ruled out a leadership bid.

Other names circulating as potential leadership candidates include Housing Minister Kathleen Wynne and Energy Minister Chris Bentley, who has been at the epicentre of the cancelled plants controversy, and has been accused of withholding key documents.

McGuinty said Monday he will stay on until the Liberals elect a new leader, adding the timing of the recall of the legislature would have to wait until then.

“I want my successor to make that decision,” he said.

McGuinty said he adjourned the legislature to allow for a “cooling off period” to give the Liberals time to negotiate with unions and the opposition parties on a wage freeze for nearly 500,000 public sector workers.

“We’re going to make a sincere and determined effort to sit down with our labour partners and see if we can negotiate wage freeze agreements,” he said.

However, the Canadian Union of Public Employees called McGuinty’s move to prorogue the legislature an affront to democracy.

“The premier is trying to duck a scandal of his own making,” said CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn.

“He and his colleagues should have the strength of character to stand in the legislature and face the music over their costly attempt to buy votes by cancelling electricity plant contracts.”