Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly has waded into the provincial election – just over a week after he promised he would stay out of it.
Kelly – a longtime Liberal and former Liberal MP – endorsed Premier Kathleen Wynne during her speech at the Canadian Club of Toronto on Thursday.
The endorsement from the de facto mayor of the province’s largest city comes exactly a week before Ontario goes to the polls.
“This province needs a city-friendly premier,” Kelly told the audience at the lunch-hour speech. “Kathleen, that leader and that premier is you.”
The endorsement comes as a surprise given the fact Kelly – who holds all the powers of the mayor while Rob Ford is in rehab – said on May 26 that he wouldn’t be getting involved in the election.
“I think that the debate is between the party leaders and their constituents provincially,” Kelly said, explaining why he wouldn’t be endorsing any party ahead of the June 12 vote.
“I think people are going to have to look closely at the presentations of all three parties and make their decision.”
Ford has been no fan of the Liberals in the lead up to this year’s election.
Wynne has shunned Ford and dealt exclusively with Kelly since last November when council stripped him of most of his powers due to his crack cocaine scandal.
Back in 2011, Ford didn’t endorse any party during the provincial election but did come out endorsing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives ahead of the 2011 federal election.
Last year, Ford campaigned strongly against the provincial Liberals and for the Progressive Conservatives during two provincial byelections in Toronto.