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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne smiles as she speaks to the media after winning a majority government at Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday, June 13, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The Canadian Press

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is pledging to wring more money from government assets, including the province's electricity system and liquor monopoly.

A government panel led by TD Bank CEO Ed Clark has recommended selling off part of Hydro One and hitting up the private cartel that owns the Beer Store for more cash, among other measures.

"I'm absolutely willing to take those on," Ms. Wynne told reporters at a Liberal Party meeting at Caesar's casino in Windsor, Ont. Saturday. "Will it be easy? … No, it won't be. But that's not a problem from my perspective. That's exactly why it needs to be taken on."

The Liberals are hoping the assets will yield a multi-billion-dollar jackpot they can then spend on building new subways, highways and other infrastructure.

But Mr. Clark warned that making good on this promise will mean taking a hard line with vested interests in the province. To make more money off the government-owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario, for instance, the province will have to push alcohol wholesalers for bigger discounts.

The privately-owned Beer Store, meanwhile, has already threatened to jack up its prices if the government dings it for more cash.

But Ms. Wynne said this will not stand in her way.

"We're going to make sure that we have, to the greatest degree possible, a rational distribution system – whether it's of beer or of other alcoholic products," Ms. Wynne said. "There are things we can do that will make it better for the people of the province, and we're going to do them."

Ms. Wynne also addressed criticism over a legal loophole her government created that would allow cabinet to redirect asset sale revenue away from transit and into other files. While she would not make an absolute pledge to direct all cash from assets to infrastructure, she did reaffirm her promise to get transit built.

"Here's the assurance that I will give the people of Ontario…: we are committed to building transit and transportation infrastructure across the province," she said. "It's a cornerstone of my platform, it's a cornerstone of the plan for economic growth…I am committed to it."

Mr. Clark's panel is recommending hiving off Hydro One's local distribution businesses -- including Brampton Hydro One -- and selling controlling stakes in them to the private sector. He says the Beer Store, meanwhile, should be made to pay a franchise fee or higher beer tax to the province as a condition of keeping its monopoly.

Armed with a majority in the legislature, won in June's election, Ms. Wynne has a largely free hand to implement Mr. Clark's recommendations. But the opposition parties both served notice they are unhappy with the plan.

The Progressive Conservatives said Ms. Wynne is not going far enough, and should look at adding more private liquor sales – such as through agency stores, private outlets that work in partnership with the LCBO.

"Look: if we were to build Ontario again, we wouldn't be building the same communist-style liquor system that we have here in the province," PC MPP Monte McNaughton said.

Meanwhile, New Democrat Lisa Gretzky, who represents the riding in which the Liberals held their convention, argued public assets such as Hydro One's distribution business are better left in public hands.

And she evoked the government's controversial bailout of the Medical and Related Sciences research incubator as a cautionary tale on mixing the public and private spheres.

"Clearly, the Liberals feel like they're on cloud nine after their election win, but I think in reality they're on MaRS and so far that trip has cost us over $300-million," she said.

In an earlier speech Saturday, Ms. Wynne sought to rally the rank-and-file ahead of the new legislative session, which starts Monday.

The Liberals are hoping to swiftly pass new laws that will govern infrastructure planning, crack down on auto insurance fraud to reduce premiums, index the minimum wage to inflation, and compel MPPs to post expenses online, among other measures.

The government is also in the process of designing a new provincial pension system.

The Premier tried to frame these measures – and her government in general – as moderate and centrist.

"[People] care less about left and right than they do about moving forward. Ideology is rigid and constraining," she told the packed hall of cheering Liberals. "As Liberals, we are not trying to put into practice the musings of some long-dead political philosopher."

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