Credits: TONY CALDWELL/QMI AGENCY
But the allure was what McGuinty was promising to do, not what he'd done. It's a common mistake among the young and the earnest. They always want to help people. Which is a dangerous notion. It presumes many things: That people always need help, that the type of help they need can be provided by government (whether it be new programs, laws or giving money), and - the most arrogant part - that you are the person to deliver this help.
It's the great fallacy of the political class. And one that, once I took a step back, I saw through. It struck me as more than a coincidence that, for politicians like McGuinty, as the months turned into years the solution to everything always seemed to rest in the creation of a new agency, new commission, new laws. Rarely did anyone recommend fewer laws, or state an issue should be left to the private sector or the home.
I'm describing a version of "masters of the universe" - the phrase Tom Wolfe coined for self-aggrandizing Wall Street bigwigs. In politics career politicians, party hacks, policy wonks and consultants see the world as full of people who need their help.
Only most problems out there already have mechanisms in place to solve them (for example, you can and should call the police if you're being bullied). But "masters" are too romanticized with their own genius to accept that. They need to create new things to show off their brilliance.
As Premier Dad, McGuinty was the ultimate master. All day kindergarten. Ornge. College of trades. LHINs. Broadened taxation via HST. Laws about junk food and pit bulls. The near doubling of provincial spending. All costly solutions to problems that never existed.
There are many of this ilk within the ranks of Ontario Liberals. Not so much elected - more the party operators, the backroom boys and girls. They're obsessed with their make work projects and with politics as a game. They have their law degrees and they're not afraid to bill us for their time, even if we don't need it.
Does McGuinty's resignation spell the end of this era? I doubt it. It seems to be the culture. That provincial police see fit to investigate Ornge - many observers believe this will result in criminal charges - shows that the masters' love of doing more makes them blind to their own sins. The ends - which are always just around the corner - justify the heinous means.
During the course of his nine years, Dalton McGuinty taught me a lot, changed me. He taught me what not to do. He showed, as Reagan said, that government isn't the solution to all of our problems, in fact sometimes it is the problem. Rings true when you realize the legislature recently spent much of its energy grappling with problems caused from within - Ornge and the power plants.
Sure, as various commentators are reminding us, McGuinty's a really nice guy. A nice guy who had great ideas to help us all.