Glen Murray made his bid to lead Ontario Liberal party official Sunday, as he became the first candidate to formally enter the leadership race.

Murray made the big announcement at Maple Leaf Gardens in downtown Toronto late Sunday morning, just one day after officially stepping down as minister of training, colleges and universities.

"Today I am the first official candidate to throw my hat in the ring, that means I’m the front-runner," Murray said during the opening of his speech.

"For this brief, singular moment I know what it feels like to be Justin Trudeau."

Murray complimented the provincial government under outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty on its ideas, actions and achievement, but said it is now time for renewal. As a member of McGuinty’s cabinet for three years, Murray said he was running for the chance to inject the party, and by extension the provincial government, his new ideas and energy.

"This race is about picking someone who has a clear agenda and a premier who is ready, if forced to take the Liberals into election and win another mandate," Murray said.

Murray outlined his campaign briefly during his announcement, saying it was built on five main ideas:

• He will introduce tax cuts for middle class families and small businesses, making it easier for these families to boost the economy

• No money down for university or college tuition as he said "students can’t afford to pay more"

• An aim to see "cities and towns that work" by localizing control of power projects and creating rapid transit that works

• A plan to give Northern Ontario a stronger voice through a government that listens

• His final promise – to create a "smart government"

Murray suggested he could achieve those goals by converting tax deductions into grants and boosting government productivity, despite the province's $14.4 billion deficit.

"I will reconcile all of these numbers," he said. "You will have more spreadsheets. As you know, I am not a person who is accused of being short on words or details. I will try to be a little more concise."

In his remarks, Murray focused on his time as Mayor of Winnipeg, between 1998 and 2004, as evidence that he was able to maintain a strong and transparent government. Murray became a member of the Ontario legislature after he was elected during a 2010 byelection in Toronto.

Murray also focused on his more recent work as minister of training, colleges and universities in which he says the introduction of OSAP Express eliminated student-aid lineups.

It’s a digital plan he hopes to see spread throughout the Ontario government, bringing drivers’ license and health card renewals online next.

"I hope to move government from an analog government to a digital government and save a heck of a lot of money," he said.

He also pointed out that he has family roots in Sudbury and Alexandria, Ont., indicating that Toronto would not be his only focus.

Murray made his announcement at the historic Maple Leaf Gardens where the Liberal Party will choose its new party leader on Jan. 25, 2013, a time he said “proves together you can be a winner in Maple Leaf Gardens.”

Two weeks ago, McGuinty announced that he was leaving public office after nine years as premier and 16 years as the provincial Liberal party leader.

"It is time to begin the next chapter of our government," Murray said Sunday, adding that he will release more details of his campaign in the coming days.

Members of the Progressive Conservative Party and the NDP expressed a lack of enthusiasm for Murray’s bid, suggesting not much would change under his leadership.

"Glen Murray can hit the 'reset button' until his finger hurts, but people won't forget he's part of the McGuinty Liberal status quo," said Gilles Bisson, a New Democrat member of the legislature.

Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative Rob Leone suggested curbing public spending should be the priority of the new party leader.

So far, the only other contender expected to formally announce a run for the job is former Municipal Affairs Minister Kathleen Wynne, who gave up her own cabinet post last week.

Kathleen Wynne is expected to make her own announcement Monday in her Don Valley West riding.

With files from The Canadian Press