If someone had told us what was to happen on the six pm news last night, we would have arranged for the brass band. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s speech was a bit of a tease. At one point it sounded as though he was about to call an election but that made no sense as he would not have needed to prorogue the legislature earlier in the day. An election does that automatically.
Dalton ended his leadership of the Ontario Liberals as far to the right of the political spectrum as when he first appeared 22 years ago. While he seemed more comfortable in his role, so does everyone when they have decided to move on. Dalton obviously got some very good advice on how to end the debilitating impasse at Queen’s Park. And he took it.
McGuinty got most of his ideas from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This includes his labelling bills with positive names that bear no relationship to what they are designed to do. A recent example was the Youth Action Plan that included 32 crime prevention initiatives, many of which had little to do with youth.
But Stephen Harper is still the king of parliamentary proroguers! This was the first time, McGuinty had used that devise to save the hides of some of his cabinet colleagues.
Reflecting on the resignation today, there is no question that there is a big sigh of relief. Dalton’s plaint about Ontario’s deficit is now history. The next leader is unlikely to want to bite that bullet too soon. Even Treasurer Dwight Duncan as leader (God forbid) would not be so foolish as to risk everything on the issue.
Looking at the Liberal leadership prospects at Queen’s Park is a sad exercise. If the strongest contenders are cabinet colleagues Health Minister Deb Mathews and Treasurer Dwight Duncan, we are going to have to search outside the provincial caucus. Having the race concurrent with the federal leadership is actually a unique opportunity. And we should not forget that the Quebec Liberals are also in need of leader who is not as far to the right as the last one.
The one thing that we can count on for the next year is that we are going to have lots of Liberal activities to comment on.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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