Credits: QMI AGENCY PHOTO
TORONTO - Well, that's that.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has decided he’s had enough. To scattered applause and more than a few stifled yawns, the premier has departed the political stage and walked off into the night.
To some foes and friends it has been called a “graceful exit” and the right thing to do.
Really? Surely this is no time to be economical with the truth.
A graceful exit is something ballerinas do. It’s usually accompanied by an arm full of flowers, a flood of air kisses from the corps de ballet and a little arabesque for exclamation at the footlights.
Politicians are supposed to stay and fight their corner. They stand by their decisions and make them work.
That’s why they are elected. It’s why they fight elections so hard.
By resigning and immediately proroguing parliament, McGuinty has denied the house any chance to vote on his stalled legislation, thus sparing the Liberal leader and his party the risk of embarrassing defeat on the floor of the House.
Resignation just smacks of political opportunism and weakness.
If McGuinty truly believed in his plans for Ontario, then he would fight on. He would negotiate, arm twist, compromise where necessary but ultimately he would prevail.
Why is he going now, you ask? Even if you didn’t it is a question worth considering. The short answer is: because he can.
McGuinty pursued office at last year’s provincial election and never once said it would be his last. Nor did he indicate he would be stepping aside before he’d reached the 12-month mark of his latest term.
He had ample opportunity to do that in the election campaign proper and at the Ontario Liberal Annual General Meeting since.
Not once did he ever make public his desire to leave the field of battle.
To go now is what cynical politics is all about. It reinforces the belief in the electorate that politicians will say, do and promise anything they think they can get away with just to win power for its own sake.
Goodness knows they will even cancel natural gas plants if they believe that will deliver votes in a few tightly held ridings.
It has been well canvassed that McGuinty leaves a smoking wreck at Queen’s Park for others to clean up.
The Ornge scandal happened on his watch and is no closer to resolution today than it was 12 months go. If anything the stench is just getting worse.
Other crises need attention like the public sector wage freeze and the provincial budget. There is a new deal that needs to be cut with doctors and teachers have a lawsuit challenging their imposed contracts that needs addressing.
There is also the little matter of billions of dollars worth of debt accrued during the McGuinty Liberal government. The borrowings were needed because under McGuinty there was no problem – real or political – he couldn’t try and fix by throwing money at it.
This will hang over the province for a generation and more.
Most or all of the above problems will now be placed in abeyance by McGuinty’s decision to run away.
Ontario will be run by bureaucrats at least until the New Year by which time the Liberals are likely to have a new leader and will have deigned to recall the legislature.
Don’t we all deserve better that that? Bureaucrats have no opposition and make their decisions away from public scrutiny.
They will be running Ontario while our MPPs do little else but watch from the gallery.
Yes, Dalton McGuinty is loyal, kind to strangers and a good friend to those in need. Those close to him describe optimism, a sense of fun and a winning smile. He is nice in all senses of the word.
For better or probably worse, the manner of his leaving will define Dalton McGuinty more than all those admirable human qualities combined.
McGuinty is the premier who simply ran away.