Former Liberal cabinet minister Kathleen Wynne officially entered the race to replace Premier Dalton McGuinty Monday evening, promising to return provincial politics to a “common ground,” while continuing to pay down Ontario’s deficit.

Wynne, who resigned from cabinet Friday, made the announcement during a news conference held in the Don Mills and Eglinton area around 6:00 p.m.

Wynne told the gathered group of supporters and reporters that under her leadership provincial politics would return to a middle ground and would be conducted with “openness, transparency, honesty and good faith.”

“I think I’ve demonstrated my commitment to those values in my public and in my private life,” she said.

Wynne praised McGuinty’s track record on boosting the province’s education and cutting down health care wait times. She also stressed the importance of continuing to pay down the province’s $14.4-billion deficit.

“We find ourselves in complex times that require complex solutions, that require strong leadership,” she said.

“We must choose a leader who can help navigate through these tough times. Who can stay the course on our economic plan and who can help bring opposing sides to the table and find real creative solutions.”

Wynne warned that Ontarians risked losing all the gains they’ve made in the past nine years if they failed to choose a strong leader.

In a nod to the current labour dispute with the province’s teachers, Wynne promised to repair the fraught relationship.

“Because we can't move ahead in addressing our fiscal issues without a good relationship with the workers of this province," she said.

Earlier, a group of teachers staged a demonstration outside Wynne’s campaign launch, protesting against the controversial anti-strike law that was recently passed by the province.

The province’s leadership race was opened three weeks ago after the embattled premier made the surprise announcement that he was stepping down and proroguing the legislature until a new Liberal leader was chosen.

McGuinty confirmed Wynne’s intention to run on Friday, after she told him she was resigning from her post as minister of municipal affairs and housing and minister of aboriginal affairs to make a bid for the top spot.

Wynne served as the province’s education minister from 2006 to 2010. She also served as minister of transportation from 2010 to 2011. If she wins, she will become Ontario’s first female and openly gay premier.

On Sunday, former minister of training, colleges and universities Glen Murray announced he was entering the leadership race. Murray resigned from his post on Saturday.

The new Ontario Liberal leader will be chosen after a leadership convention scheduled for Jan. 25, 2013.

With files from the Canadian Press