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Peter Worthington

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Ontario Politics Needs a Little Less Liberal Arrogance

Posted: 09/19/2012 12:50 pm

If there was ever a good time to pull the plug on Dalton McGuinty's minority Liberal government, that time is now. In the last provincial election, MGuinty pulled a rabbit out of the hat by winning -- even though it was a minority government when conventional wisdom was that he and Libs would lose and, more to the point, deserved to lose.

Liberals won, largely because the Conservatives under Tim Hudak blew it. Hudak has smartened up since then, and with the help of the NDP's Andrea Horwath (something of a dynamo) could force McGuinty into retirement. Horwath has brought her party close to popular parity with the Conservatives.

One poll, commissioned by something called Broadview Strategy Group, has Conservatives at 36 per cent, the NDP at 35 per cent, and the Liberals sinking at 22 per cent. Another poll has Tories seven points ahead of the NDP which, in turn, is a couple of points ahead of the Liberals.

An election now will rid the province of Liberal arrogance for a while, and that's a positive, even if it means putting the NDP in power for a while. (But not too long). If the poll numbers are correct, it would probably mean a minority Conservative government, since the Tories are less scattered through the province and are solid in certain areas.

No one is nuts about Hudak's leadership, but he's a good person and with the horrid example of McGuinty Liberals in charge, would probably be more sensible and responsive to the needs of the province. Of course, if Conservatives were to win, the NDP would be the opposition and would stimulate the economy and liven up the political scene. What the province needs more than anything, is a rest from the damn Liberals.

Speculation is that if an election looms, McGuinty might resign rather than be defeated. That's doubtful. McGuinty's not a quitter and has defied the odds in the past, and won. Go down fighting, if that's in the cards, but don't quit. If McGuinty is destined to lose, let him be carried off on his shield. If he were to depart the political scene, speculation as to his replacement as leader includes the likes of Municipal Affairs Minister Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan. Even George Smitherman is mentioned. (Ugh!)

Nothing much to inspire.

Since Tim Hudak isn't scary as leader, Horwath and the NDP may think this is their moment to strike. If so, maybe they are right. If they delay, their moment may well pass. And if Hudak becomes premier, he may well perform better than anyone expects, simply because expectations are not high. That's a great asset for a political contender -- witness Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Hudak might take encouragement by checking how McGuinty was viewed when he was Opposition leader in1996: No charisma, ineffective, uncomfortable with media questions, not up to the job, poor debater, deer caught in the headlights, and so on.

Today he's one of Canada's most successful premiers. Hudak and Horwath have been endorsed as leaders in reviews by their respective parties by a 3-1 margin. McGuinty's leadership will be "reviewed" by Liberals on September 28. He should be handily endorsed after nine years of being premier and some 22 years in the Legislature.

On thing certain, the teachers union would be lobbying for Horwath -- which is a damn good reason to vote Conservative if an election is called.

 
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