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Media Bites: Confine McGuinty Mania to Ontario? Bollocks!

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I'm not sure if mankind has yet devised a unit of measurement large enough to quantify the volume of editorials about the life, times, and future of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty that have flooded the Canadian press in the aftermath of his unexpected Monday resignation. It's almost enough to make one pine for the pine for the cautious restraint of Justinmania.

Those of us cursed to dwell in one of this country's many scenic non-Ontario provinces may be wondering what exactly all the fuss is about. To our modest eyes, after all, McGuinty probably seemed (if he seemed at all) like a fairly run-of-the-mill regional politician, premiering about for a couple years but never tearing down Canadian flags, trying to separate, or being a woman, which is generally what it takes for a provincial leader make headlines outside of Toronto.

Thankfully our wonderfully Ontario-centric punditocracy is here to make sense of it all.

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According to the Toronto Star board (which is also what I believe Premier McGuinty dove off on Monday) Dalton matters because he "was on the right side of the big issues for Ontario throughout his nine years in office," leaving "a legacy to be proud of." A "generally successful record" capping a "remarkable provincial political career" agree the boards of the Globe and Mail and Ottawa Citizen, respectively.

Among this chorus of McGuintiacs, much is made of the outgoing Premier's inspiring commitment to increased spending in education, increased spending in energy development, increased spending in healthcare, and increased spending in infrastructure. I mean, fair enough, by  the end of his term he had piled up a monstrous deficit and ginormous piles of debt, but these are "challenges McGuinty didn't anticipate," to quote Starite Carol Goar, so show a little understanding. After all, he is, "if nothing else, a standup guy," notes Globeo Adam Radwanski.

But math illiterate legacy revisionism isn't the only story flowing from the McGuinty resignation. God no! When it comes to press gossip and speculation, Dalton's a friggin' cornucopia of subject matter.

Take this: as part of his long goodbye, the Premier has opted to make his final six months in office a bit easier by proroguing the provincial parliament. We all remember that fun word, right? It's when a politician decides to suspend the legislature, a la Palpatine in Episode IV, because he finds question period annoying, or doesn't want to face a non-confidence vote, or some other perfectly selfless and sympathetic motive that we can all agree should absolutely be within the prerogative of the executive branch.

Wait, didn't people, like, burn effigies in the streets when Harper did this, asks Thomas Walkom in the Star. So why the "collective yawn" now? I mean, there's "nary a mention of jackboots at all!"

Oh Tom, I'm afraid this is just the new normal, responds Jon Ibbitson in the Globe. Far from some unprecedented act of tyranny, Dalton's is merely the "latest in a string of decisions by governments across Canada to dispense with the inconvenience of parliament." And don't just take my word for it, says Jon, lookie! I found all these academic bigwigs willing to cluck their professorial tongues at our country's horrible parade of leaders "sidelining their legislatures" in order to satiate their inner Hugo Chavez.

Both writers seem a tad miffed that the public isn't more aghast at the increasingly dictatorial way in which our leaders exercise power. It's certainly a serious question which deserves a thorough--HEY DID SOMEONE SAY LIBERAL LEADERSHIP RACE??

There's no way you didn't see this coming. Could Premier McGuinty only be quitting to run against Justin Trudeau?? His lips say no no, but that hasn't stopped the press from camping out on Mark Carney's lawn for the last few... seasons, now has it?

Dalty would "be a powerful force in the national Grit leadership race" that's for sure, says Bruce Anderson in the Globe. I mean, he could help win Ontario... he, uh, has other qualities, I assume, and he "wouldn't frighten your children" if he came over for a photo-op. If nothing else, he'd "certainly eclipse Justin Trudeau in experience and gravitas," agrees Jeff Simpson. (You can see what high standards we have for prime ministers these days).

Oh come on, says Jon Kay in the Post, these dopes are "wasting their breath" with this garbage. Dalton is so obviously not PM material I've made a handsome list of all the reasons why. His legacy's crap, Justin is invincible, and premiers never become prime minister. Bam! Case closed.

Good points, says Chantal Hebert in the Star. No, wait, those are actually terrible, terrible points. Lest we forget, it wasn't too long ago that the pundit brigade was also super-sure that "Ontarians would never vote in great numbers for as conservative a leader from Western Canada as Stephen Harper, or that no federal majority was achievable without Quebec," and "that the NDP was forever consigned to the wilderness in that province." So excuse my skepticism about your cute little list of impossibilites, Jon.

Anywho, just to summarize, in the eyes of the Ontario press, Premier McGuinty's resignation brings massive consequences not only for Ontario, but also the future of Canadian federal politics and indeed the fate of Canadian parliamentary democracy itself.

I suspect it's also relevant to the American presidential race, the Syrian crisis, and NHL labour negotiations, but y'know, space is limited.