It's a crucial weekend in the race to succeed Dalton McGuinty as premier and leader of the Ontario Liberals.

About 45,000 Ontario Liberal party members will vote Saturday and Sunday to select delegates to this month's leadership convention

The results will give a strong indication where the candidates will stand after the first ballot.

The members' choices will determine more than 1,800 delegates to the convention on Jan. 26 - the vast majority of the people who'll have the power to pick the next premier.

Most of those running to be delegates are aligned to particular candidates and those who get chosen must vote for that candidate on the convention's first ballot.

Party officials say the results will be made public by Monday morning,

That will give a good sense of who's the front-runner heading in.

Right now Kathleen Wynne and Sandra Pupatello appear to be neck and neck.

Wynne is on top in fundraising, Pupatello in key endorsements.

Both have a significant lead on the next group which is a toss up between Charles Sousa, Eric Hoskins and Gerard Kennedy.

Trailing the field - with no caucus endorsements and the least money raised - is Harinder Takhar.

The voting starts Saturday afternoon in the 905 region, as well as eastern and northern Ontario,

On Sunday the attention shifts to Toronto, Hamilton-Niagara and the southwest.

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  • Dalton McGuinty's Scandals

    When you lead Canada's biggest province for nine years you're bound to have some missteps. Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty has had his share of scandals and mistakes. <p>We highlight a few that caused him more headaches than usual. <p>Photo: Ontario Liberal Party

  • Health Premiums

    Back in 2004, a relatively new Liberal government under Premier Dalton McGuinty was forced to go back on a campaign promise not to raise taxes and instituted a health premium of between $300-$900. Photo: Alamy

  • Energy Plan

    In 2006, the Liberals tried to announce a new $46-billion energy plan that would see renovations of many of Ontario’s power plants. But the plan became a problem for the Liberals when <em>the Globe and Mail </em>revealed that the government tried to exempt their plans from environmental assessments. Photo: Shutterstock

  • eHealth

    The government’s plans to modernize medical records in the province ran into massive scandal when reports of overspending, waste and possible conflict of interest were revealed at <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EHealth_Ontario">eHealth</a>, the agency responsible for building a new electronic records system. The scandal forced the resignation of Health Minister David Caplan. <P>Photo: Shutterstock

  • G20 Police Laws

    Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals were criticized for laws giving police greater powers to ensure security during the <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2010/12/08/mcguinty-g20-ombudsman-report652.html">G20 in 2010</a>. The laws were seen by civil rights groups as draconian. Andre Marin, Ontario’s ombudsman also <a href="http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontog20summit/article/902817--ombudsman-charges-g20-secret-law-was-illegal">criticized the government</a> calling the laws and police action a massive violation of civil rights. <p>Photo: AP Files/Carolyn Kaster

  • Ornge

    Ontario’s air ambulance service, Ornge, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/tag/ornge-scandal">caused another headache for McGuinty’s Liberals</a> after reports of financial irregularities, cost overruns, huge salaries for managers being kept secret and reports of kickbacks began to emerge in the media. <P>Photo: CP/Globe and Mail

  • Canceled Power Plants

    Hobbled by scandal and facing a resurgent Conservatives in the 2011 provincial election, the <a href="http://www.globaltoronto.com/timeline/6442734189/story.html">Liberals cancelled two power plants</a> in the GTA despite the fact it would cost taxpayers several hundred million dollars. Ontario's auditor general estimates those costs could climb to $1.1 billion. <P>Photo: Michelle Siu/CP