Hsu voices optimism, pride in Kingston as ballots cast for Ontario Liberal leadership

Kingston and the Islands MPP Ted Hsu (right) shares a smile and a chat with his vocal supporter, Rob Baker, during the Liberal Party of Ontario’s second day of voting for party leadership here in Kingston on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

There is always a buzz of excitement as the culmination of months of campaigning comes to its final stages and people are casting their ballots.

For Ted Hsu, candidate for provincial leadership of the Liberal Party and Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Kingston and the Islands, this past Sunday afternoon was no exception to that.

As Ontario Liberal Party members lined up at the Kingston Seniors Centre to cast their vote for the party’s leader on the afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, Hsu – who officially announced his candidacy for leadership in May of this year – was on hand to witness the flurry of activity, with many of his supporters in attendance. Hsu was also present to cast his own ballot in the election and explained how that process works.

“I am allowed to vote for myself,” Hsu said with his signature smiley, upbeat nature.

“It is a ranked ballot, there are four candidates, so you can put a one, two, and a three, and a four, and I will be ranking all four candidates. I’m telling everybody to think about the other candidates and to rank them [starting at] second, not first,” he said with a laugh.

“I’m going to be at the top of my own ballot, but I do think you should think about who the other choices are, and rank them accordingly.”

The MPP and candidate for party leadership shared that Sunday’s final of two days of voting felt like “the end of a long journey,” as campaigning for Liberal leadership saw him begin to start travelling back in September 2022.

“It’s the end of the campaign, and I’m really excited and looking forward to the count next Saturday on December 2,” Hsu said.

He shared that, while travelling across Ontario, he’s seen that “we share many of the same problems” that “are slightly different flavours.” Of the issues top-of-mind for Ontarians, Hsu pointed to the need for more housing, the need for more doctors, nurses, and other health-care professionals, and the cost of living.

“So, you hear this over and over again, but it’s a little bit different. In some places, there’s not enough land. In some places, there’s not enough skilled labour. In other places, we lack a few health professionals, and in other places, [there are] seven places for doctors, and there’s only two doctors, so it can be extreme, especially [in] northern communities,” Hsu detailed.

The campaign trail also offered Hsu a chance to gauge how voters felt and feel about the provincial Liberal party, he expressed.

“I think we were received quite well. When people meet me in person, they have a good impression. It’s just that, when you’re in a province of 15 million people, it’s only so many people you can meet in person,” he said, noting that apart from travelling to campaign, his campaign team hosted debates and other public meetings in an attempt to reach as many people as they could.

A lineup stretches through the parking lot at the Kingston Seniors Centre, where voting for Liberal leadership in Ontario took place on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023. Photo by Cris Vilela/Kingstonist.

“I have a good feeling… we’ve had a surge in support in the last two or three weeks, I’d say, and that’s reflected also in donations, so I have a good feeling about where we are,” Hsu continued.

The MPP said that his campaign had noticed over the two days of voting for party leadership that the turnout of people they’d identified as Hsu supporters had been quite high, around 60 to 70 per cent. However, amongst the general membership of the Ontario Liberal Party, the turnout has been “quite low” – about 25 per cent in many urban ridings and even as low as 10 per cent in one riding.

“But rural ridings have tended to vote in higher percentages,” Hsu shared, noting that his campaign had concentrated mainly on rural, northern, and smaller cities.

The Ontario Liberal Party will tally the votes for party leader over the coming days, with the results to be announced on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. Hsu said that, once that decision is finalized, he is the only leadership candidate who won’t have to resign if he wins the vote, because he is already serving at Queen’s Park. He said he believes that, of those in the running, he is in the best place to bring the party together as a united front. The long-time Kingston-based politician then turned his attention to the riding that has elected him into power multiple times over the past two decades.

“I do not hesitate to ever tell people that I’m from Kingston. I’m really proud of people in Kingston,” he said, noting that his pride in Kingstonians is not solely down to the support they’ve given him, but also the way they are “a little tough on political leaders.”

“People in Kingston, they asked hard policy questions and they’re not afraid to make sure that their representatives stay on their toes. And that gives me an edge, I think, in campaigning across the province, that I come from Kingston,” Hsu continued.

“The other thing I would say is that, here in Kingston, people are relatively engaged civically, and it means that somebody who wants to talk about policy or who wants to do politics a better way, has a better chance of succeeding. And that I’m very thankful to the people of Kingston for.”

The four registered candidates for leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario are Bonnie Crombie, Nate Erskine-Smith, Ted Hsu, and Yasir Naqvi.

With files from Cris Vilela.

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