"I pride myself on being sober-minded,” he told CBC provincial affairs reporter Mike Crawley as part of a series of interviews spotlighting all seven candidates ahead of the Jan. 25-26 Ontario Liberal leadership convention. “A leader has to be someone that's not erratic or combative and ensure that all points of view are being heard. I've always prided myself on never getting angry."
A calm demenour will be an asset should Sousa, 54, emerge as the victor over six other leadership candidates. The winner will inherit a party that clings to minority status and could find itself on the campaign trail in early 2013.
Sousa is not a career politician. First elected to the legislature in 2007, the married father of three brings to the race 20 years of experience as a banker at RBC. He later served as citizenship and immigration minister in the McGuinty government.
Sousa says he learned much of his work ethic from his father, who came to Canada from Portugal in 1953. The senior Sousa, a businessman, was known for helping other recent arrivals get situated in their new country.
"They knew Mr. Sousa would be able to take care of them, find them a place to stay, help them get a job,” he said. “He ended up helping many. He liked to say that [in Canada] there's room for everyone to compete and do business. There's also room for everyone to help each other and that's what motivated me to get into politics."
Sousa said his background as a banker will help him run a government that is fiscally responsible while creating more jobs. Ontario is struggling with a slow-growth economy and a deficit that tops $14 billion.
If picked to lead the Ontario Liberals, Sousa said he would work to "transform" Ontario's rural communities by creating more high-skilled jobs in areas such as information technology.
"We need to get things moving," he said.
Sousa also made a number of other promises, including putting in a high-speed rail system that would connect Hamilton to Oshawa and eventually, expand it from Windsor to Quebec City.