Mitzie Hunter appointed deputy leader of Ontario Liberals


By Lincoln DePradine

Mitzie Hunter

Mitzie Hunter, who ran two years ago to become leader of the Ontario Liberal Party (OLP), is now second in command to interim party leader John Fraser.

The Liberal Party has not set a date for electing a fulltime leader. But, Hunter isn’t ruling out again contesting for the party leader job.

“I know what it takes because I have done it,’’ Hunter told The Caribbean Camera. “I know that I will have a role in the future; whether I decide to run, it is something that I’m thinking about.’’

The OLP, under former Premier Kathleen Wynne, was reduced to seven seats and lost official party status in 2018 provincial elections, which were won by Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative Party.

In this past June’s Ontario polls, the Liberals garnered a modest increase in support, finishing second in the popular vote, but only winning eight seats. OLP leader Steven Del Duca immediately stepped down, and Fraser – MPP for Ottawa South – was appointed interim leader for the second time in four years.

Hunter, who turns 51 on September 14, is Member of Provincial Parliament for Scarborough—Guildwood. She and Fraser were first elected MPPs on August 1, 2013.

“We’ve worked together ever since then,’’ said Hunter, adding that serving as OLP deputy leader is “an opportunity’’ for an even closer working relationship with Fraser.

“It’s a great role,’’ she said. “It’s definitely a continuation of a great working relationship. I have his trust and his confidence to take a leadership role and to support the team.’’

John Fraser

Jamaica-born Hunter, who was reelected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 2014, 2018 and 2022, is a former Liberal cabinet member. She’s the first Black woman ever to serve as the province’s minister of education.

Hunter, who has a Master’s degree and is a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Rotman School of Management, held other government positions such as minister of advanced education and skills development; and also associate minister for the ministry of finance, with responsibility for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

The OLP has “a voice in this province as progressive liberals’’, said Hunter who, in addition to deputy leader, is the party’s critic for education, labour, immigration, training and skills development, as well as women’s social and economic opportunity.

 Everything ought to be done “to make sure that we strengthen our public education system, especially at a time coming out of COVID when we have to examine whether there are learning gaps’’, said Hunter.

“We don’t want our students and our young people falling behind because of this pandemic. And, I will be insisting that the government makes investment in public education and not cut. Rather than taking money out of public education, we should be reinvesting in public education and making sure that students get the help and the support that they need so that they could catch up.’’

Hunter also committed herself to raising “a strong voice’’ on matters of jobs and labour to ensure that “we think about the jobs of the future, the jobs of tomorrow, and how we prepare for that. Everyone that wants a job should be able to get a job in this province’’.

Healthcare for all Ontarians is also “very important’’ and a priority issue for the Liberal Party, said Hunter.

“We don’t believe in privatizing our public health system. That’s something that we stand firmly against,’’ she said. “We want to make sure that everyone in the province who needs healthcare can get the help in a public way, and it’s not just available to the few who can pay.’’


LJI Reporter