Skip to content

A cup of ambition and a message for the women of Ontario

Ontario's Liberal leader reflects on women's ambition to mark International Women's Day
Then-Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidate Bonnie Crombie is seen at the Midland Cultural Centre in August.

Ambition in a woman, we’re told, is unbecoming.

Like many women, I’ve often been offered the subtle  — and occasionally loud — advice not to drive too hard or push too loudly for my goals, lest I be branded “that” kind of woman.

The obvious question is, “Why shouldn't we be ambitious?”

But I think the question we as women really ought to be asking ourselves is this: “What do we do with our ambition?”

In 2024, that kind of woman isn’t just what we want. We need women who wake up and pour themselves a cup of ambition, to quote the great Dolly Parton, and then get to work.

So here’s the truth. I’m ambitious, unabashedly so. I’m ambitious about the future of Ontario, but ambition alone isn’t enough. We have a lot of work to do to fix our health care and schools and to make sure women and everyone in Ontario have the things they need.

To get there, I have a plan that builds off of one word: abundance.

I want to do big things. You deserve high-quality health care, amazing education, reliable transit, efficient transportation — and we need a growing and abundant economy to finance it all. These things are not too much to ask.

I’m not happy to settle for “getting things done” around the edges. For policies that tinker with changes but leave the big, hard problems unsolved.

I don’t want “attainable” housing, where we fudge the numbers with long-term care beds as part of our home-building targets. I want housing real people can afford.

We don’t have that dream today.

I see it with my own children, two of whom are engaged to be married, all of whom have struggled with the homeownership my generation perhaps largely took for granted. It’s the basic building block of a middle-class life: to buy a home, to have a manageable mortgage, to be able to put a little bit into savings and still give your kids what they need to go even further than we did. And I know that good, affordable rentals are also an important part of getting Ontario’s housing mix right.

You deserve reliable, affordable and effective transit in our cities and suburbs, so we can get around more quickly, as well as efficient, well-maintained roads and highways. We lose so much each year as an economy because of traffic gridlock and it is directly harming our planet, too.

I’m also living life now in that sandwich generation: I see my mother every week, who, at 88, needs home care. She — and her friends — constantly tell me how worried they are about the crisis in our health-care system. They’re concerned about staying in their homes and scared of what they'd face in our equally strained long-term care system.

And women disproportionately continue to face that caregiver squeeze. Too many feel forced out of their careers because the support their kids and aging parents need is either too expensive or non-existent.

Believe me, as a mom who worked while raising three kids, I recognize that it is impossible to realize your own ambition as a woman when those basics are not in place.

When I look around Ontario today — and I’ve had the unique opportunity these past few months to travel the province — I see and I hear fear, frustration, but also a desire for us to do better.

The people of Ontario haven’t given up, but this current Conservative government has abandoned them.

Doug Ford seems content to be mediocre. But that’s because he doesn’t work for ordinary people. He works for his wealthy, insider friends. As one age-old proverb tells us, where there is no vision, people perish.

I am offering something different. I don’t believe in “good enough.”

I believe in a plan to truly grow our economy, and turn that growth into ways to make life affordable and deliver on the big projects we need. Transit and transportation infrastructure, great schools and training programs, and the health care, childcare and seniors care that will allow people to succeed.

I’m committed to fighting every day to be able to deliver on an ambitious agenda. An agenda of abundance that puts you and your family first. You have a choice. You deserve a government that cares, that leads and that doesn’t settle for less, but reaches for the stars.

It isn’t too much to ask.

Bonnie Crombie is the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and was the mayor of Mississauga for nearly a decade.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks