The governing Liberals will choose a successor to Dalton McGuinty in late January and that individual automatically will become the big cheese.
The new leader may be boss for only a few weeks. He or she will either call an election or be forced by the opposition in the legislature to seek a mandate to govern.
The legislature surely owes us that much after having been inactive since mid-October, a period that will total more than three months when the final leadership vote is cast.
Shuttering the legislature and resigning were both part of the McGuinty strategy to duck and run to escape negative consequences from the scandals wrought by his government.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was the cancellation of two power plants in urban areas to save a couple of Liberal seats during the last election – a cynical political move if ever there was one. Even though the provincial Liberals continue to show strength in the polls, surely it’s a leap of faith to think the party will win the ensuing spring election.
With a record of scandals, financial mismanagement, chaos in the energy sector and upheaval in our schools, it’s hard to guess why anyone would vote Liberal next time.
With the Grits out of power, long-suffering Ontarians, particularly those in rural areas, might have a chance to get some answers about McGuinty’s most covert hijinks.
Chief among these is the price major offshore wind power companies paid to get the government to run roughshod over the rights of rural residents on the placement of giant turbines.
It’s obvious that wind investors were assured that people would not be allowed to interfere with their plans. You’d think selling out that basic democratic right must have brought the province a king’s ransom – a ransom that seems to have disappeared down the black hole that was McGuinty’s example of sound financial management.
During the last election, one of the political operatives in McGuinty’s office told me the province kept site approvals for wind turbines out of local hands because lower-tier governments couldn’t be expected to stand up for themselves in negotiations with major corporations. Tell you what, lower-tier governments would much rather deal with a major corporation than an unresponsive, uncaring, holier-than-thou provincial government.
The government showed all those traits when it moved just before Christmas to approve a wind power development at Ostrander Point in southern Prince Edward County.
As Conservative Senator Bob Runciman pointed out in a news release, that approval, like so many others, was granted against local wishes. The project also “threatens migratory birds and bats and it makes no sense from an energy standpoint,” the senator said.
Runciman points out that another wind farm in a designated important bird area, Wolfe Island, has a kill rate for birds and bats “that is seven times the industry average in Canada, primarily because it is located in the wrong spot.”
Runciman, who served 29 years in the Ontario legislature before being appointed a federal Conservative senator, joins opposition to the Ostrander Point project from opponents across the province.
There’s no guarantee a new premier from a different political party would care any more about the birds, the bats or the people of rural Ontario. But it’s far more likely than a new leader successfully changing the Liberal stripes painted by McGuinty.