It took over a decade, but Peter Tabuns is finally leader of the Ontario NDP — for now.
Members of the party’s provincial council voted late on Tuesday evening to confirm Tabuns, who represents Toronto—Danforth, as interim leader and to cement the timeline and rules for the full leadership contest. Tabuns won by 87 per cent of the vote by the provincial council — 10 per cent opposed and three per cent abstained, a member attending the meeting told QP Briefing.
My thanks to the members of the #ONDP who have appointed me their interim leader. I appreciate your confidence and your trust. You know I will fight for the people of this province, I know you will too.
— Peter Tabuns (@Peter_Tabuns) June 29, 2022
The member spoke anonymously so they could speak freely about the details of the meeting.
The timeline to elect the next leader of the NDP will be decided at a later date, after a prolonged debate at the meeting, which was extended twice, pushed the discussion out of the agenda.
Pushback from delegates that felt as though the council was rushing through the details of the leadership contest and the procedural slowdown from the use of Robert's Rules of Order contributed to the delays, the source said.
The process for selecting an interim leader has taken nearly three weeks.
In early June, four contenders emerged in the race for interim leadership, including Tabuns and his MPP colleagues: Peggy Sattler, Bhutila Karpoche and Jennifer French. Interim leader candidates can be nominated either through the party executive via a recommendation from caucus, or from the floor of the provincial council.
NDP MPPs voted on June 13 to recommend Tabuns as interim leader and he was endorsed by the party executive three days later.
The provincial council is made up of various riding and regional groups, committees representing marginalized groups, and representatives from the provincial and federal NDP caucuses, among others. The party executive, which includes the party’s president and executive director, is also part of the provincial council.
Tabuns first ran for party leader in 2009 and lost to outgoing leader Andrea Horwath, who held on to the position through four elections. He joined the legislature in a 2006 byelection and was previously a Toronto city councillor and Greenpeace Canada’s executive director.
After 13 years as party leader, Horwath stepped down on election night, following her fourth election defeat and second to Doug Ford. A number of senior New Democrats, including Horwath’s chief of staff, principal secretary, press secretary, and the party’s communications and community engagement directors, are all leaving as well.
Leaders from the province’s five largest unions, all members of the Ontario Federation of Labour, wrote to the party executive on June 15 asking for an extended leadership race to sidestep any potential conflict with municipal elections and collective bargaining negotiations. They want to see a final vote pushed off until February, meaning an eight-month election period.
An extended leadership contest could also allow for a shakeup within the party’s caucus, as Horwath mulls over a potential mayoral run in Hamilton, which would trigger a byelection as well.
Six MPPs, just under a fifth of the NDP caucus, have publicly entertained or are rumoured to launch a leadership bid, including Catherine Fife, Marit Stiles, Joel Harden, Wayne Gates, Sol Mamakwa and Laura Mae Lindo. Faisal Hassan — who lost his seat in York South—Weston to Michael Ford, the newly appointed minister of citizenship and nephew of the premier — told the Star he is also mulling a run for party leadership as well.
While nothing in the NDP’s constitution prohibits an interim leader from joining the leadership contest, it’s expected that Tabuns will not run.