Last week, the incredible shrinking regime of Dalton McGuinty shrank completely out of sight. He departed not with a bang, but a whimper.
Yes, Liberals should laud his fundamental decency and many have. He truly is a nice guy. But after that, they should kick dirt on him and put up a political gravestone that reads Rest in Peace. That should be the end of his unremarkable political career.
And yet, like a scene from that Stephen King horror classic Pet Sematary, some people want to resurrect the dearly departed as though the country’s future hinged on his majestic leadership. But why? Is this some Halloween hoax?
This is a man who had one big idea in his nine years as premier and it was an idea that really blew – wind power. Other than that, he essentially presided over Ontario’s slow decline while chalking up three election victories.
Some people will seize on the “three victories” thing as vindication for McGuinty’s approach. I seize on the “Ontario’s slow decline” as vindication for anything but the McGuinty approach.
The idea that windmills will save the Ontario economy is the kind of wisdom you might pick up down at the local hemp shop. But wherever the idea came from, it has yet to power Ontario forward. Unemployment in too many cities sits in double digits even as turbines spin in that wayward wind. But even if subsidized wind energy hasn’t powered the mighty Ontario job creation machine, it has been jet fuel for Ontario deficits. According to the McGuinty government’s own projections, Ontario’s debt will eclipse $300 billion sometime in the next three years.
That would be bad enough if McGuinty had already moved on some necessary reforms. For instance, Ontario’s health-care monster continues to consume ever more of the Ontario budget. Soon it will account for half of all government expenditures crowding out all kinds of other important services and initiatives. But instead of dealing with this during two majority governments, he kicked it down the road for his successor to deal with.
Then, of course, there is the little matter of the cancelled natural gas plants, the hidden documents and the, ahem, prorogation. Why, just a couple of years ago, prorogation was called “stealing democracy,” but I digress.
No, the idea that Dalton McGuinty would be taken seriously as a candidate for prime minister after he has balled up Ontario so badly is a fantasy on par with thinking windmills can power a manufacturing economy.
Chances are even Dalton doubts he’d ever have a chance to escape his record. But in the meantime, the media interest in his federal aspirations helps distract attention from the circumstances around his resignation. And yet the fact that so many Liberals would take his candidacy seriously speaks volumes about how the Liberals still don’t get it. At some point, another party will replace the Conservative Party as the government. Almost certainly the party that does it will have the leader best qualified to set the stage for economic growth and opportunity.
So far, the Liberals show no signs that they understand that.
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