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Bonnie Crombie will no longer be the mayor of Mississauga. Here's how she will lead the Ont. Liberals without a seat

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Bonnie Crombie is officially out as Mississauga mayor and in as the full-time Ontario Liberal leader.

Friday marks Crombie’s last day at city council, a position she has held for a decade, having been first elected in 2014.

“It's been an honour and a privilege to serve the great city of Mississauga,” Crombie told reporters following her last council meeting Wednesday.

“It's a bittersweet time, but I'm at peace.”

Her next challenge will be to take on Premier Doug Ford at Queen’s Park and rebuild the provincial Liberal party after two dismal  elections.

Crombie’s pledge to bring about change, reinvigorate the party’s base, and her ability to stand up to Ford was what spurred her to top position on Dec. 2.

Speaking with CTV News Toronto ahead of the holidays, the new leader of the party with nine sitting MPPs said she didn’t think it would be unrealistic for her to beat the Progressive Conservatives in 2026.

“My goal is to win,” she said. “We are going to present a very viable, competent, transparent, trustworthy government alternative to this one. A government with integrity that people can rely on.”

Crombie doesn’t yet have a seat at the legislature, having been handed the job of party leader after the 2022 provincial election.

Bonnie Crombie, who is considering a bid for the Ontario Liberal Leadership is photographed on the steps of the Ontario Legislature, in Toronto on Thursday May 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Her predecessor, Steven Del Duca, who suffered a disastrous loss on that fateful day, also didn’t have a seat, having lost to incumbent PC candidate Michael Tibollo in Vaughan-Woodbridge in 2018.

Despite this, CTV News’ Political Commentator Scott Reid says he isn’t particularly worried about Crombie not being present during Question Period.

“It's not ideal, but it's probably less important now than it ever has been in our political history,” he told CTV News Toronto.

“Her first priority should be raising money, raising her profile, and raising the prospects for the Liberal Party.”

Crombie can still scrum outside of the chambers, host news conferences and take part in the day-to-day activities of Queen’s Park.

“She also wants to find opportunities in and around Queen's Park to get into Doug Ford's grill,” Reid added. “One thing that's clearly unique about Bonnie Crombie: she drives the premier nuts. He can't help himself but talk about her.”

Crombie, for her part, said there’s a lot of work to be done on the ground and she won’t immediately seek a seat, despite one being up for grabs in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex sometime this year.

“It has to be a seat that makes sense,” she said.

Ontario Liberal Party leader Bonnie Crombie poses for a photograph at Queen's Park in Toronto on Wednesday, December 20, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Crombie had a decent relationship with Ford over the last few years as mayor, but that connection has turned frosty since Dec. 2. Just weeks after being elected the Progressive Conservatives released radio and television ads attacking Crombie and portraying her as an elite who will raise taxes. At the time, Crombie said the ads showed “a lack of civility” during a time where the government should be focusing on policy.

It’s this policy she wants to focus on first, starting with some grassroots discussions with Ontarians.

“Expect announcements on that kind of work that we'll be doing, and we're all pretty excited about it.”

Members of Provincial Parliament will return to the legislature on Feb. 20 for their first session of 2024.

Mississauga city council will declare the mayoral seat vacant on Jan. 17. Following that they have 60 days to announce a by-election.

The city has a bylaw that allows councillors to rotate into the position of acting mayor. The acting mayor for January is Ward 4 Councillor John Kovac.

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