Toronto MPP Marit Stiles announced her bid to lead Ontario's New Democrats Thursday as the party looks to move forward after its disappointing showing in the June provincial election.
Stiles, who represents the Toronto riding of Davenport and serves as the NDP's education critic, made her candidacy official at an afternoon appearance with supporters. She was joined by fellow NDP MPPs Bhutila Karpoche, Kristyn Wong-Tam and Chandra Pasma.
Stiles said she's aiming to defeat Premier Doug Ford's Progressive Conservatives, who sailed to a second majority government on June 2.
"I'm inviting all Ontarians to join us as we build a movement that can defeat Doug Ford and deliver more for working families — more opportunity, more equity, more access, more hope," Stiles wrote in a statement.
"Doug Ford wants us to lower our expectations, but Ontarians know it's not normal to have 40 kids in a classroom, or to wait 12 hours in the emergency room."
The Newfoundland-born Stiles was first elected as an MPP in 2018 when she defeated a Liberal incumbent. Before she secured a seat at Queen's Park, Stiles was a Toronto public school board trustee and also spent two years as president of the federal NDP.
The New Democrats have been without a permanent leader since Andrea Horwath stepped down on election night, when the party lost seven of the 38 seats it held at the dissolution of parliament. It was a dispiriting result for the NDP, which had tried to position itself as the only party that could beat the PCs.
Horwath had held the top post since 2009, leading the New Democrats into four elections. Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns was appointed as interim leader in late June.
"I think Andrea absolutely built our party up a great deal," said Stiles on Horwath's legacy. "I think now it's time to take the next step. We've got to inspire all those working people who've given up hope that there is something that we can aspire to."
Speaking to CBC Radio's Metro Morning the day after the election, Stiles said it is clear the NDP needs to change its approach to winning over voters if it hopes to form government in the future. She said the party failed to inspire enough Ontarians to topple the PCs.
"We've got a big job ahead of us," she said of the NDP's long-term outlook.
"We need somebody who can bring us all together. We're going to need somebody who connects, I think, with real people, but also somebody who's smart enough to pull together some really good policy."
LISTEN | Stiles discusses the NDP's future after the June 2 election:
While Stiles will be the first candidate to announce a leadership bid, fellow caucus members Wayne Gates and Laura-Mae Lindo have previously hinted they may also run to lead Ontario's Official Opposition.
According to the party's rules, potential candidates have until Dec. 2 to join the contest. The new leader will be decided by ranked ballots, with a winner to be announced on March 2, 2023.