Ontario Liberals to hold leadership convention in January

The Ontario Liberal Party will hold a leadership convention in late January that will select a new leader who will take over for the departing Premier Dalton McGuinty.

McGuinty announced Oct. 15th that he was stepping down and also said he would prorogue the provincial legislature.

The party announced Sunday afternoon that a convention has been scheduled for the weekend of Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. Leadership candidates must gather the signatures of at least 250 party members and provide an entry fee of $50,000 in order to take part in the contest to succeed McGuinty.

They must also respect a campaign spending limit of $500,000 and file their papers by 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23.

"Through these rules we are ensuring that we have a fair, transparent and robust leadership process,” Ottawa Centre MPP and Ontario Liberal Party President Yasir Naqvi said in a statement released Sunday.

The party's executive committee still must determine a location for the convention and set delegate fees.

Earlier Sunday, Naqvi said he will not seek the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party following McGuinty's resignation.

In a statement, Naqvi said he has decided to focus on his new role as a father to his five-month-old son.

"I am very proud to work for my community as the MPP for Ottawa Centre and remain committed to the challenges ahead," Naqvi wrote.

"Together, we have accomplished a lot for our city and I look forward to continuing to serve my constituents."

Ontario Housing Minister Kathleen Wynne and Health Minister Deb Matthews are considered to be likely contenders, along with Energy Minister Chris Bentley and Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid, among others. But all remain coy about whether they'll throw their hat in the ring.

John Wilkinson, the former environment and revenue minister who lost his seat in last year's election, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, as have former ministers George Smitherman and Sandra Pupatello.

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told The Canadian Press that he's seriously considering a leadership bid.

But he says it's a huge commitment at his age — and for the rest of his professional career — to either be premier or rebuild the minority Liberals if they lose the next election.