12/31/2012 07:19 EST | Updated 03/02/2013 05:12 EST

Wynne propelled by power to connect with people

Kathleen Wynne's bid to become the next premier of Ontario comes after years of community activism and fighting for the advancement of publicly funded education.

An avid jogger who competed in track events as a student growing up in Richmond Hill, Ont., the 59-year-old mother of three children is accustomed to hard-fought races. In the contest to replace Dalton McGuinty as leader of the Ontario Liberals, the Don Valley West MPP is viewed as a left-of-centre candidate whose appeal could erode support from the NDP.

Wynne has a background as a mediator and a school-board trustee. She was first elected into the Ontario legislature in 2003 and has served as municipal affairs and aboriginal affairs minister.

Wynne, who also has two young grandchildren, cites her mediation training as fundamental to shaping her political style.

"Some people play the cello, and some people are able to connect with other human beings," she says. "I seem to have that ability."

Wynne lives with her partner, Jane, in North Toronto. When she's not working, her ideal ways to unwind are spent either with her family canoeing or swimming at their cottage in the Kawarthas, or reading mystery novels. She still runs between three and five kilometres most mornings, though she said she no longer has the time to train for marathons like she did in her youth.

The path from activist mom to serious politician has been a natural evolution for her, Wynne says.

"A north Toronto mom with three kids, I really changed my view of what my future could be — and needed to be — because I believed so strongly in what Ontario stood for and how our democratic system had developed," she says.