Bonnie Crombie's foot-in-mouth moment
And Schreiner's tweet-and-delete shade
ABOVE THE FOLD
We have lift-off. BONNIE CROMBIE’s formal entry into the Liberal leadership fray was a splashy affair — but it was quickly shrouded by another off-the-cuff remark, this time, about developing the Greenbelt.
The good: The Mississauga Mayor walked into a packed (but relatively small) venue at Metalworks last night, SHAWN MENDES’s “Something Big” blaring and supporters sporting Liberal-red hats and T-shirts stamped with “Bonnie.” Crombie was introduced by rookie MPP and campaign co-chair STEPHANIE BOWMAN (who up until this week was considering a bid of her own). Even Raps super fan NAV BHATIA made a cameo.
“Felt like a TAYLOR SWIFT concert,” texted one organizer.
Crombie then came for Ford and boasted about being a “big tent” party. “Our health care is in crisis. Our education system is being shortchanged. Our environment is fragile. And life in Ontario is becoming more unaffordable,” she told the crowd, to yells of “Shame!”
“So what is DOUG FORD and the Conservatives’ answer? Privatize health care, my friends. More online learning. Helping their buddies get richer.”
The bad: Then, the Globe and Mail’s juicy story hit the wire, in which Crombie said she is A-OK with swapping out Greenbelt lands — so long as there are proper consultations with the community, municipalities and First Nations. Again, she slammed Ford for developing the protected lands with scant transparency.
The ugly: Political friends and foes pounced. “People were talking about Laura [Stone’s] article within minutes of Bonnie’s speech ending,” one insider told me.
“She keeps doing it. She keeps sabotaging herself.”
Reaction from leadership rival NATE ERSKINE-SMITH — who has painted himself as a left-leaning contender in comparison — was swift. “Liberals created the Greenbelt. As leader, I will work to protect it,” he tweeted.
TED HSU, too: “How do I differ from Bonnie Crombie? The Greenbelt is a clear issue. I stand behind the Greenbelt in the way that it was intended to be: preserved.”
PO also got in on the Bonnie bashing. “Another clean hit from Bonnie ‘Right-of-Centre’ Crombie,” tweeted TRAVIS KANN, the Premier’s deputy chief of staff for strategic comms.
It’s not the first time Crombie has landed in hot water for her remarks. She walked back her comments about moving the party “right-of-centre” and raised eyebrows when talking about building towers next to transit (or not).
Scoop — Who’s who: Crombie’s still staffing up, but I got my hands on an early list of advisers, featuring political stalwarts DON GUY, JACK SIEGEL, TIM MURPHY, SARA ALIMARDANI, NOAH ZATZMAN, VANDANA KATTAR, DAVID GENE, LIZ MENDES, TYLER BANHAM, DARRYN McARTHUR, DHRUV JAIN, MICHAEL FONTEIN, D’ARCI McFADDEN, CURTIS O’NYON and MARCEL WIEDER. She’s also recruited veteran party treasurer PETER CURTIS as CFO.
As for DOUG FORD: Crombie “doesn’t even faze me,” he said when Global News caught up with him leaving the Leg.
But: Behind closed doors, PC insiders are sweating Crombie’s candidacy, not least because she’s a popular mayor in the vote-rich 905 region, has a knack for getting under the Premier’s skin — and regularly goes toe-to-toe — and she doesn’t carry any of the political baggage of the previous Liberal era. Grits, Tories, NDPers and pollsters alike believe she has the potential to revive the party from minivan status.
AFTERPARTY — 6 p.m.: Crombie goes for round two tonight with a more intimate meet-and-greet a block up from Queen’s Park at the Duke of York’s back patio.