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Hoskins Discussed Health Ministry, Sousa Finance, With Pupatello Prior To Supporting Wynne: Senior Sources


Senior Hoskins operative delivered Hoskins buttons in popcorn bag to senior Pupatello advisor morning of convention, asking they to be "embedded" on her delegates for "when" Hoskins walked over.   

  

By Susanna Kelley

As Premier-Designate Kathleen Wynne painstakingly puts together her cabinet to be sworn in Monday, more information is surfacing about what Eric Hoskins and Charles Sousa were discussing with Ms. Pupatello before they gave their support to Ms. Wynne at the Ontario Liberal leadership convention.

Multiple sources have told OntarioNewsWatch.com (ONW) that Eric Hoskins discussed becoming Health Minister with Sandra Pupatello on the Tuesday before the Ontario Liberal leadership convention, when he also pledged to cross the floor to support her during the convention that Saturday, January 26th.

In addition, a senior source says, Charles Sousa discussed becoming Finance Minister or being given a senior economic portfolio with Ms. Pupatello.

Sources say Ms. Pupatello told both of them she could not make specific promises because that would be against the law, but that there was an understanding they would be supporting her anyway.

As well, more details are coming to light that back up accusations that Ms. Pupatello was very surprised by both Eric Hoskins and Charles Sousa when they walked across the convention floor to help crown Kathleen Wynne as the new Liberal leader and Ontario Premier.

Dr. Hoskins' has denied he ever agreed to come to Ms. Pupatello, although most senior advisors to Ms. Pupatello were convinced there was an understanding that he would come to her.

And an incident on the Saturday morning may be the "smoking gun" that supports Ms. Pupatello's senior advisors' version of events.

Several sources in the Pupatello camp confirm a senior Hoskins operative approached a senior Pupatello advisor on the Saturday morning of the convention with a bag of Eric Hoskins buttons in a blue popcorn bag.

The Hoskins supporter asked Ms. Pupatello's advisor to "embed" the buttons on Pupatello delegates, so that when Dr. Hoskins crossed the floor to her later that day, it would appear that he had strong support.

The sources confirmed the Hoskins operative said "when" Dr. Hoskins crossed the floor to Ms. Pupatello, not "if."

Observers will be watching closely to see what portfolio Dr. Hoskins and Mr. Sousa will be given in the new cabinet, especially after Dr. Hoskins appeared to make a sudden turn right on the convention floor to go to Ms. Wynne.

After the first ballot at the convention, the last-place Dr. Hoskins had appeared to be heading to Ms. Pupatello's box but as is clearly shown on video shot by OntarioNewsWatch.com, was seen changing directions after his riding association president Joe Belfontaine grabbed him and whispered in his ear.

The tape shows Dr. Hoskins then turned, pointed to Ms. Wynne and said "thank you" a number of times, applauding and pointing at her box as he walked to her, trailed by his supporters.

Here is a clip from ONW's documentary on the convention, showing Dr. Hoskin's turn:

 

 

(Several attempts by OntarioNewswatch.com to reach Mr. Belfontaine before publication time were unsuccessful. An email asking the Hoskins camp when exactly he made his decision to go to Ms. Wynne was not answered.)  

Ms. Pupatello, senior sources in her camp say, had told Dr. Hoskins earlier in the week that in the best interests of his career, he might want to rethink his wish, because no Health Minister in Ontario has ever gone on to become Premier.

Despite that, by the Wednesday before the convention, sources say Ms. Pupatello was sure there were separate understandings between she and each of her three fellow candidates - Dr. Hoskins, Charles Sousa and Harinder Takhar - that they would all be crossing the floor to support her. 

In the end, only Mr. Takhar did.

Dr. Hoskins' discussion of the health portfolio allegedly occurred on the Tuesday night before the convention, when, as reported originally by the Toronto Star and confirmed by ONW, Ms. Pupatello met Dr. Hoskins and his wife, Dr. Samantha Nutt, at their Toronto home.

According to multiple sources, Ms. Pupatello told Dr. Hoskins, rather than health, there would likely be room for him to play some starring role in her cabinet on the social justice side, as she would be concentrating on jobs and the economy. (Dr. Hoskins has said helping the most vulnerable is one of his priorities.)

It is unknown whether Ms. Wynne made a promise of a specific portfolio to Dr. Hoskins, but party stalwart Greg Sorbara talked to him between the first and second ballot of the January 26th vote.

Mr. Sorbara says Dr. Hoskins indicated he wanted to speak with the veteran Liberal and Mr. Sorbara complied.

Mr. Sorbara will not reveal what was discussed between the two, but ONW videotape confirms it was shortly before Dr. Hoskins started to cross the floor, appearing to head to Ms. Pupatello.

After Mr. Hoskins went to Ms. Wynne, she did not deny to this reporter that Mr. Hoskins had been promised a specific position but avoided the question, saying instead they would work hard:


 

 

Mr. Sorbara says there were "no deals" made.

Mr. Sorbara also adamantly denies speculation he himself decided to support Ms. Wynne after extracting a promise that Ms. Wynne would implement the recommendations of the Lankin-Sheikh Report on Social Assistance. 

"Absolutely not" Mr. Sorbara told Ontarionewswatch.com.

"There were no deals," he reiterated.

Instead, he said, he listened intently to the delegate speeches and said afterwards that Wynne's was the best convention speech he'd ever heard, but that he remained a free agent.

At her news conference the morning after her victory, Ms. Wynne announced one of her main priorities would be the implementation of that report, which is meant to ease the suffering of those on social assistance.

The Pupatello camp sources are also adamant that Charles Sousa broke an understanding made the week before the convention that he would cross the floor to support Ms. Pupatello as well after discussing the possibility of being appointed to a senior economic portfolio.

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion's surprise support of Ms. Wynne was thought to have played an important part in Mr. Sousa's ultimate decision to walk across the floor to Ms. Wynne, bringing his delegates, and helping to put her over the top into the leader's seat.

A senior advisor to Mr. Sousa denies that Mayor McCallion's support of Ms. Wynne influenced him to go to her.

Ms. McCallion's support of Ms. Wynne was a surprise because earlier in the week, in an email sent to Mr. Takhar and obtained by ONW, Ms. McCallion had said she would remain uninvolved despite overtures by at least three candidates:   

"Dear Harinder,

Thank you for the invitation you extended to me to introduce you to the Liberal Convention.

On Sunday, January 20, 2013 I received a call from Kathleen Wynne inviting me to join her as her guest at the Convention.

On Monday, January 21, 2013 I received a call from Sandra Pupatello to chat about her campaign.

After very careful consideration of these requests and consultation with others, I have decided not to participate," Mayor McCallion wrote.

But by Saturday, Ms. McCallion was standing prominently at the front of Ms. Wynne's box, applauding and supporting her.

Earlier in the week before the convention, Ms. McCallion had also told her council she was aggressively seeking $1.5 billion in provincial government funds to pay the entire cost of the Hurontario/Main LRT (Light Rapid Transit) line being built in Mississauga, as the government had done for an LRT for Toronto. 

Again, at that same news conference the morning after her convention victory, Ms. Wynne said transit for the GTA would be one of her top priorities as Premier, along with the Lankin-Sheikh recommendations.

Also in that email that same week, Ms. McCallion said she had hoped "one of our Mississauga candidates" would become Ontario Premier, but "in light of voting results to date published in the press" she hoped Mr. Takhar and Mr. Sousa would "work together to help determine the leader of the Liberal Provincial Party (sic) and therefore Premier of Ontario."

Sources believe Mr. Sousa, who is thought to be considering a run for Mayor of Mississauga when Ms. McCallion steps down, was influenced by the Mississauga mayor's support of Ms. Wynne.

However, a senior Sousa advisor denies Mayor McCallion's support of Ms. Wynne influenced him.

Mr. Sousa's riding - Mississauga South - falls under Mayor McCallion's jurisdiction.

A high profile position such as finance minister would set Mr. Sousa up well for a run for the Mississauga mayoralty should the Liberals fail to win the next election, which some Liberals privately believe to be quite possible.

Mr. Sousa being in the finance portfolio would, of course, also provide a direct pipeline to power and influence in the treasury for Ms. McCallion's $1.5 billion LRT project, some say.

A disagreement with Ms. McCallion, on the other hand, could hurt Mr. Sousa should he run for the Liberals once again or for Mississauga mayor.

All of this has supporters of all the former leadership candidates watching closely to see what portfolios Dr. Hoskins and Mr. Sousa will be heading up on Monday.


You can find Susanna here: @susannakelley

About Susanna Kelley

Susanna Kelley is Editor-in-Chief and Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for Ontario News Watch. A veteran political and investigative reporter, documentary-maker, host and media commentator, Susanna oversees and has final editorial control over all news production at Ontario News Watch. Susanna has reported for the CBC, the Canadian Press and served as Queen’s Park Bureau Chief for TVOntario for 13 years. She has also hosted a number of documentaries for CBC’s The Current, CBC Radio News and TVOntario’s Studio 2. Passionately dedicated to excellence in political journalism, and having covered both Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park, Susanna believes quality political reporting is essential to a healthy democracy. You can find Susanna here: @susannakelley
Posted date : February 07, 2013

View all of Susanna Kelley's columns
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