Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty speaks to the media after making an announcement to resign from the leadership of the Ontario provincial Liberal party at Queen's Park in Toronto October 15, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Mark Blinch
OTTAWA -- Can Dalton McGuinty rise above a legacy of taxpayer-financed boondoggles and miscues that are certain to mar his tenure as premier?
That is the key question his operatives will weigh as pressure mounts on the Ontario Liberal leader to take a stab at the federal vacancy and prevent the unwanted runaway coronation of media candidate Justin Trudeau.
Some Liberal MPs were unsure Monday whether McGuinty could hide from a string of scandals and mounting multi-million dollar catastrophes to plunge into a race and leave him vulnerable to bruising Conservative attacks on his record.
Others were willing to take him - warts, prorogation and all.
"I mean we're into a leadership race now," said Toronto's Judy Sgro. "For him to go from there to this tomorrow, I can't imagine him doing it. I think he was quite sincere in his decision to step down and I think it was probably a wise thing for him to do that."
John McCallum said McGuinty is a proven winner at the ballot box and has had success on the health and education fronts despite a faltering Ontario economy.
"I'm not saying I would support him necessarily, but for the good of the party the more strong candidates we have in the race the better."
Liberals are desperate for a vibrant leadership race to convince Canadians the party is not washed up and that things are changing after its historic rout last year.
Privately, many think Trudeau is not ready for prime time - despite a legion of non-voting teenage fans that say otherwise.
Marc Garneau is still mulling a bid, and said the more contenders the better.
"A lot of people have great things to say about Mr. McGuinty, including myself, so if he decides to join the race that will be a great thing for the Liberal party."
Toronto MP Carolyn Bennett said if the premier sits this one out, his brother David - a sitting Ottawa MP - is another option.
"I think what we want is a great race, so whether it's David or Dalton, bring on a McGuinty!"