Premier McGuinty certainly leaves a legacy

It must have been an inside joke at the Toronto Star. An opinion piece this morning lauded Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty for his contribution to education in Ontario. It even compared McGuinty favourably with former Ontario Premier Bill Davis. Frankly, Bill Davis might have grounds to sue everyone involved for defamation.

This is not to say that Bill did not make his own mistakes as Premier. The fact that the writer of the Star opinion piece is a professor connected to The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto speaks volumes. We all hope that when OISE ever figures out what it is supposed to do, it does not come as a surprise to Bill. Of course, he really deserves the credit for creating TVOntario—an outstanding educational channel—and for the development of Ontario’s community college system which has constantly proved of major economic benefit to the province. We might be a little less forgiving for the straightjacket Bill put us in by expanding the funding to Catholic schools.

But full-day kindergarten is not a legacy. It is like forcing earlier potty training. It might be a trauma that can come back to haunt you as an adult.

Where McGuinty is like Bill Davis is in being right wing. While Bill has always prided himself on his being a staunch Conservative, his heart is in the right place and he is a compassionate person. McGuinty is not. For him to blame the Liberal’s former friends, the teachers, for Ontario’s deficit is a guarantee of the party losing the next provincial election.  And yet he backed off on his fight with the doctors. He lost with them.

Where we in Ontario benefitted from McGuinty was that the repairs needed to correct the often dangerous cutbacks of the Harris Conservative regime had to be put in place cautiously. To just restore the cutbacks without that caution could have lead to serious financial problems.

But, in the long run, the caution and conservatism were overdone. Poor Tiny Tim Hudak, the Conservative leader, must have felt redundant at times with McGuinty outdoing him on the political right. Even in Mike Harris’ heyday, nobody in the Conservative caucus would have dreamed up a bill as draconian as Bill 115. The fact that the bill has been used against some of the teachers seems to be Dalton McGuinty’s real legacy.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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