TORONTO -- Ontario Liberals made history Saturday in electing the province's first female premier, choosing a diplomat over a warrior to lead the embattled party into an uncertain future.
Former education minister Kathleen Wynne won the race with 1,150 votes at the delegated convention, with longtime Liberal Sandra Pupatello finishing second with 866 votes.
"This was the easy part," Wynne told the crowd of cheering delegates at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens after she was declared winner.
"Now we have the challenges ahead of us and we're going to need all of us working together."
Wynne is also making history as Canada's first openly gay premier, a subject she confronted head-on in a dynamic speech that wowed delegates Saturday morning.
Ontario is ready for a gay woman as premier, Wynne told the crowd.
"The province has changed, our party has changed. I do not believe that the people of Ontario... hold that prejudice in their hearts," said Wynne, who is married to Jane Rownthwaite.
Wynne's no-nonsense, professorial style was almost identical to Premier Dalton McGuinty, whose "never too high, never too low" mantra carried the Liberals through nine years of ups and downs.
She may have tapped into a vein of Liberals who want to stick with the moderate, centrist style that's allowed them to maintain power and ward off the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats.
Wynne insists she's different from McGuinty and the right leader for the times.
-- The Canadian Press