After serving nine years as Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty has stunned the country by announcing his intention to step down as Liberal leader. Regardless of one's opinion of the man, he has arguably had a bigger impact on the province than many of his predecessors. There may be much to criticize in his record, but there is also much to laud. Now is a good time to evaluate some of his bigger legislative initiatives -- good and bad.
The Harper Conservatives have turned their backs on facts-based policy -- on research, data, and reality -- in favour of ideology to a degree not seen in decades in federal Canadian policy-making. There are seemingly countless examples of policies that are unreasonable -- downright illogical -- often followed by attempts to demonize, even stifle, dissenting voices.
A man who did the right thing, not the easy thing. That's how I'll remember Dalton McGuinty's time in office. It is no secret that the province of Ontario is cash-straddled. Every province will be short on revenue in the coming decades as the cost of health care, in particular, increases. Yet Dalton McGuinty understood one of the key tenets of governance -- short-term pain for long-term gain. Yet it was not merely pragmatic decisions that characterized Premier McGuinty's tenure. Liberal values also defined his government, even after it was reduced to minority status. McGuinty said it himself the night he was elected to a third term as premier: Liberalism is still alive in Canada.
I got the chance to meet Dalton McGuinty in person on several occasions especially at the International Muslim Organization of Toronto, which is one of the largest Muslim centers and it is the hub of different ethnic communities from Muslim countries. He kept repeating himself that he was the son of immigrant whose ancestors came to this country as everyone else -- looking for hope and a decent life.
A bright outcome of Dalton McGuinty's decision to retire could be that he's persuaded to run for the leader of the federal Liberals. In my view, only a McGuinty candidacy could halt the Justin Trudeau bandwagon in an election next spring open to anyone in Canada. Like him or not, McGuinty has actually managed a huge enterprise, Canada's biggest province, whereas the biggest thing Mr. Trudeau has managed is a high school drama class and -- or so he insists -- a Twitter site with some 160,000 fans.
Can the Liberals survive as a third party? Liberals can no longer claim to be the natural governing party, nor to have the same ability to garner wealthy donors or those seeking connections. Liberals cannot coast by on "we win elections," "we're not Harper," or be the "everything to everyone" party. The Liberals face a tough political environment, with the NDP trying to crowd them out, and with their own return to power far from certain. A compelling message and clear ideals to attract support is key. Liberals cannot pine for a messiah.
The kids are just back to school and already much of what they enjoy in extra-curricular activities is being whittled away. Once again they are pawns to be used in a political game. What do you remember from your school days? I'd venture to say that many of the memories come not from what happened in class but from those extra-curricular activities, the life lessons learned and the great teachers who supported you in that quest.
If there was ever a good time to pull the plug on Dalton McGuinty's minority Liberal government, that time is now. An election now will rid the province of Liberal arrogance for a while, and that's a positive. McGuinty's leadership will be "reviewed" by Liberals on September 28. Speculation is that if an election looms, McGuinty might resign rather than be defeated.
You don't hear this stated much these days: The B.C. Liberals will win in 2013. You heard it here first. In one of the great resurrections in B.C. political history, on the evening of May 14, 2013 premier-elect Christy Clark will be grinning from ear to ear in front of a packed room of supporters in downtown Vancouver. She will thank her NDP opponent for running a spirited campaign, and graciously thank the voters of British Columbia for giving her a new four-year mandate.
Ontario is in a deep hole, the cause of which is nine years of reckless overspending. The effect is that we've run out of money, which puts everything we value at risk. Compounding the problem is a government that's adrift and out of gas. In the year since the last election, Dalton McGuinty has utterly failed to grasp the seriousness of our situation: not a nickel shaved off his $16 billion deficit, and no action to reduce the cost of our bloated public sector.
Sustainable urban planning, with walkable streets and neighbourhoods, with architecturally pleasing buildings that prioritize liveability, should not be the property of only the wealthy and the middle class. Overall, having liveable neighbourhoods and buildings for people of all incomes serves as a source of pride for the city as a whole.
According to a new poll, the Ontario NDP and its leader, Andrea Horwath, are falling far behind to third place. For Horwath, who has been addressing business friendly crowds in recent weeks, the polls reflect a struggle within the ranks of her members in the direction of the union-inspired party. Should the party maintain its controversial and stubborn perspectives on public issues or should it modernize itself?
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is boasting that its freezing of Public Service salaries has resulted in saving the province $34 million -- even though bonuses to practically all managers has cost the province over $35 million. With a $15 billion provincial deficit, it's obvious the province is in a financial crisis. Pay freezes are a necessity and bonuses justified as "performance pay" are an utter waste and insulting to those who do their job. That's not economizing; it's hoodwinking the taxpayer.
I was saddened to read that Jeff Damen, a father of two and employee of a wind developer in rural Ontario, reported having a shotgun pulled on him while conducting field work on a project site in West Grey. While I am not known for expressing opinions remotely sympathetic to that of the wind industry or its employees, and certainly oppose the development of the project in question, guns and threats of violence have no place in any debate in our province.
The secret law during the G20 and the list of laws passed in Québec to quell protests share a common characteristic: they're virtually impossible to enforce consistently. What good is a law that, once passed, is applied selectively? It places a tremendous amount of power in the hands of police who have proven unable to yield such powers appropriately.
If an election was held today, according to a new poll, the Ontario Liberals would be reduced to third party status while the surging NDP would be an official opposition. Barely a year after forming a historic third term in office, the Liberals, have been reduced to 28 per cent of support according to the poll. That may leave the Liberals on the outside looking in.