UPDATED: Wynne says she knows she' won't win Thursday's election
TORONTO -- An emotional Kathleen Wynne admitted Saturday that her party will lose the Ontario election next week but urged voters to elect as many Liberals to prevent either of her rivals from forming a majority government.
Her voice breaking up at times, Wynne appealed to voters to set aside their feelings about her and support Liberal candidates in order to keep the next government in check.
Her plea comes at a time where polls suggest the governing Liberals, who have been trailing behind the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats, could be at risk of losing official party status after the June 7 vote.
"If your concern is that you'd be electing me or electing a Liberal government, that's not going to happen," she said. "And so we need Liberals at Queen's Park to stop a majority for either of the other governments."
The premier wouldn't say whether she'll stay on as party leader after the election, and declined to endorse either the Tories or the NDP.
Nor would she comment on the possibility of strategic voting, a perennial issue in elections where voters appear to be clamouring for change.
Wynne said whichever way the vote goes, people should hope for a minority win to keep the government "from acting too extreme -- one way or the other."
The move did not sit well with NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who accused Wynne of "playing a dangerous game" that could propel the Tories to a majority.
"Her request today for a minority government is a demand that she be allowed to continue to hold the power at Queen's Park - something voters have already rejected," Horwath said in a statement.
"Now, a vote for Kathleen Wynne and a vote for Doug Ford mean the same thing. Let's not go from bad to worse."
Ford, meanwhile, had little to say about Wynne's announcement, noting only that the election is about change and people are fed up with the Liberals.
Asked if he was surprised by Wynne's decision, Ford said his team is focused on getting its message out.
Tamara Small, a political science professor at University of Guelph, said Wynne made a strategic -- and "very unusual" -- move in predicting her own government's defeat.
"It's a realization that the Kathleen Wynne brand might be more detrimental than the Liberal party brand," she said. "They're hoping they can salvage (the party)... it's about saying to people: don't abandon us. We will fix this."
By taking the blame, Wynne could be saving some of her key candidates who otherwise might have been tarnished by public opinion of her, Small said.
"So I think electorally, it's strategic, but as a leader of a party, I actually think it's really selfless. She's saying, 'I'm not going to destroy this organization with my own personal hubris.'"