June 7 (Reuters) - Voters in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, will elect their next provincial leader on Thursday, in what has become a two-way race between the right-of-center Progressive Conservatives and the left-leaning New Democratic Party.
Following are some key facts about the three major candidates:
Wynne, 64, has served as the Ontario premier since 2013 when she won the party’s leadership race after the previous Liberal premier, Dalton McGuinty, resigned amid the fallout from a decision to cancel the construction of gas plants near Toronto.
The decision to privatize a portion of the province’s electric utility, Hydro One, has been one of the hallmarks of Wynne’s time as premier. Some have blamed the move for driving up Ontarians’ electricity bills, which has hurt Wynne in opinion polls.
Wynne has also raised the minimum wage, implemented a free prescription drug plan for those aged 24 and under, and has promised free childcare for preschoolers in 2020.
Born in Toronto, Wynne studied linguistics and education, and was elected as a public school trustee in Toronto in 2000 before entering provincial politics in 2003. She is both the first female premier and first openly gay premier the province has had.
Businessman and former Toronto City Councillor Doug Ford was elected leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives in March after the former party head resigned following accusations of sexual misconduct.
Ford, 53, is the older brother of the late Rob Ford, the former Toronto mayor who admitted to smoking crack cocaine while in office. Doug Ford unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2014 when Rob withdrew after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Ford, who has been compared to U.S. President Donald Trump, is known for speaking off the cuff and has campaigned on the slogan “For the people.”
Among Ford’s campaign promises, he has vowed to lower the province’s corporate tax rate and eliminate the carbon cap-and-trade system.
Horwath has been the leader of the left-of-center New Democrats since 2009 and is the first woman to head the provincial party. She served three terms as a city councillor in her hometown of Hamilton, southwest of Toronto, before being elected to the Ontario legislature in 2004.
Horwath, 55, has campaigned on plans to create a province-wide drug and dental coverage plan, return Hydro One to public ownership and increase the corporate tax rate for large companies. (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Leslie Adler)