POLITICS
06/05/2018 10:08 EDT | Updated 06/05/2018 12:40 EDT

David Henderson, Ontario Liberal Candidate, Promises Leadership Run Despite Wynne Not Yet Stepping Down

If he wins a seat at Queen's Park, that is.

David Henderson/Facebook

In another sign of how unusual the Ontario election campaign has been for the governing Liberals, one of the party's candidates is promising a bid to replace Kathleen Wynne before the votes have been counted.

Over the weekend, Wynne admitted her government is not going to be re-elected. She urged voters to support enough local Liberal candidates to prevent Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives or Andrea Horwath's New Democrats from securing a majority government.

Wynne has not confirmed, however, that she will step down as leader after the election Thursday. She is also pledging to serve at Queen's Park if re-elected as a member of provincial Parliament.

But that hasn't stopped David Henderson, the mayor of Brockville running for the Liberals in the riding of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lake, from planning Wynne's exit.

"The most important thing for us to understand is that Kathleen Wynne has effectively stepped down as leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario following this election," Henderson told supporters in his campaign office Monday, a clip of which was posted to Facebook.

Posted by David Henderson For Leeds Grenville on Monday, 4 June 2018

Henderson called his party leader the number one concern of people in his riding.

"That means that going forward, the number one impediment to voting Liberal in this riding is not there," he said, adding that the focus should now be on stopping Ford's possible cuts to public services.

And with that, Henderson made another unconventional pitch to voters.

"If I get elected in this riding, I will put my name forward as leader as of the Liberal party," he said. "And we will rebuild the Liberal party with a pragmatic plan."

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Wynne chuckled when a reporter asked her at a campaign event Tuesday what she thought about one of her candidates already talking about becoming leader.

"I think that it is healthy in a democratic system to have people who aspire to lead, people who aspire to higher office," she said.

Henderson is attempting to unseat PC incumbent Steve Clark, who told the Brockville Recorder and Times that his Liberal rival was running away from Wynne "when the going gets tough."

At an all-candidates debate last week, Henderson conceded that Wynne is not well-liked in his riding but suggested that was because she has been a leader capable of making difficult decisions.

"It's the best performing economy in the country and the best performing economy in the G7 for the last three years with record low unemployment," he said of Wynne's Ontario. "It's hard to say that's not successful."

Ontario voters head to the polls Thursday.