Former citizenship and immigration minister Charles Sousa announced his entry into the Ontario Liberal leadership race Saturday morning.

Sousa made the official announcement at the Oasis Convention Centre in Mississauga. He has been the MPP for Mississauga South since 2007.

Sousa stepped down from his cabinet post, which included overseeing the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games, on Friday, which was a requirement to enter the leadership race.

Sousa is marketing himself as the potential “jobs premier.” His campaign will largely focus on creating conditions that he says would lead to jobs in the private sector.  Souza told CTV News Channel Saturday that it is important to ensure “Ontario is indeed open for business.”

“This is what’s going to create the stimulus and revenue,” he said. Sousa said he will sell “Ontario’s brand” to world markets.

Sousa said his plan to boost Ontario’s economy includes:

  • supporting the auto industry
  • speeding up development of the Ring of Fire.
  • investing in new manufacturing in rural Ontario.

“I’m looking at a progressive set of policies while trying to be fiscally responsible,” he said.

Sousa joins Sandra Pupatello, Glen Murray and Kathleen Wynne, who are also in the running for the Liberal leadership.

It is expected more names will be added to the pool of candidates before the Nov. 23 deadline. The Liberal party will choose Dalton McGuinty’s successor the weekend of Jan. 25, 2013 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.

Former children and youth services minister, Eric Hoskins, resigned earlier this week and is expected to announce his bid in the coming days. Another rumoured entry is Gerard Kennedy, who lost to McGuinty during the last leadership contest. John Wilkinson, former revenue and environment minister, was expected to make a bid but announced Saturday he will not be entering the race.

The race for a new leader follows McGuinty’s announcement last month that he was stepping down as premier. At the time, he also announced he had asked for, and received, permission from Lieut.-Gov. David Onley to prorogue legislature, a choice that has received heavy criticism.

On Saturday, Sousa revealed that his decision to run is based on his father’s encouragement to “make sure, when you can, to give back.” His father, who fled Portugal when an authoritarian regime governed there, chose Canada, he said.

“I feel very fortunate that my dad chose Canada and Ontario welcomed him,” he said, adding now is his chance to give back.

Sousa worked in the financial sector for more than 20 years.