The government and teachers need to be talking about getting Ontario schools working again. Our kids' education is too important. Disruptions in the classroom need to end. In August, Dalton McGuinty recalled the Legislature to force Bill 115 onto teachers and education support staff.
At a recent political event, outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty touted his legacy as leader of Ontario. "Our government hasn't been perfect," he said. "But when it comes to the big things that families count on us to get right -- schools, health care, the environment, and the economy -- we've gotten it right every time." As is often the case, there's a gap between rhetoric and reality. That's certainly the case when it comes to McGuinty's claim about the economy.
Two aspirations for Ontario -- to be the engine of Canadian jobs again and to have world-leading public services -- are interdependent, not separate, goals. We can't have one without the other. And Ontarians deserve both. Instead of grants and handouts to the politically connected, I believe tax cuts create jobs. Tax relief creates jobs, grows the economy, and stimulates new business investments.
Dalton McGuinty's decision to prorogue parliament doesn't pass the sniff test. He claims the government needed to hit the pause button on negotiations with public sector unions on a wage freeze. Well, Mr. Premier, governments of all political stripes have negotiated with unions while the Legislature sits for years.
Dalton McGuinty's sudden and unexpected resignation comes at a particularly turbulent time in Ontario politics. There is a minority Legislature, sagging poll numbers placing the governing party third behind the Tories and NDP, and a wave of inquiries and corruption allegations. In addition, there is brewing labour unrest with teachers, doctors, and civil servants over proposed wage freezes. In all this, the inevitable question is, with McGuinty's resignation in this turbulent environment, what is his legacy?
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.
We take it for granted that we live in a democracy. That label for our political system is, however, no longer accurate. Premier Dalton McGuinty's decision to shut down the Ontario legislature until his successor is chosen (whenever that might be) is further evidence that our democracy is under constant threat, more so in fact by the powerful than by terrorists. McGuinty has employed the same tactic Harper used a few years ago, presumably to stop the opposition from further investigating the Liberals' roles in the Ornge affair and gas plant closures as well as possibly censuring one of his cabinet ministers. Has the Premier also forgotten how to walk and chew gum at the same time?
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.