A tribute to the outgoing Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty at the Mattamy Centre, (the old Male Leaf Gardens) in downtown Toronto tonight, January 25th, 2013
Credits: Stan Behal /Sun Photo/ SunMedia/QMI.
TORONTO - What a shambles.
How else can you describe the mess Premier Dalton McGuinty left as he walked out the door?
We have a legislature that hasn't sat since October.
When he quit, McGuinty shut down the House -- without giving us a hint of a return date.
Liberals had the nerve to fete their Supreme Leader Friday night at what was once Maple Leaf Gardens.
Once upon a time, it was a hockey shrine.
Now it's a pale imitation, with a grocery store and a wall of cheese where there once were mementoes of the Leafs' glory years.
It's sort of a metaphor for what the Liberals have done since they came to office.
All we have left are cheesy memories of a once-great province.
While Liberals waxed poetic about McGuinty in gushing tributes, just a stone's throw from the Gardens the provincial Legislature sat dark and prorogued.
Let's take off the Liberal rosy glasses and examine just what McGuinty's legacy will be.
This is the guy who allowed the provincial debt to double in nine years.
Got a problem?
Throw money at it.
This is the guy who didn't hold the line on public-sector salaries when he should have in 2008. Anyone with any sense could see when the economy tanked that provincial revenues would plummet.
This is the guy who allowed his election campaign team to make the call to shut down an unpopular power plant. They did that in the middle of an election -- and we're only now finding out the cost of that decision.
Energy Minister Chris Bentley was facing a contempt motion in the legislature over government foot-dragging producing key documents on the gas plant when McGuinty shut everything down.
This is the guy who forced hated wind turbines -- a blight on the landscape -- on rural Ontario.
No wonder rural voters tossed so many Liberals out of office in the 2011 vote.
This is the guy who sat on his hands while $1 billion of tax dollars went down the drain in the eHealth boondoggle.
This is the guy who allowed the outrageous Ornge air ambulance scandal to fester -- despite warnings something was horribly awry.
McGuinty wants to be remembered as the Education Premier, yet in his final few months in office his ham-fisted government steamrolled their former teacher friends with Bill 115.
Then they repealed the law, no doubt hoping teachers wouldn't notice they'd taken away their banked sick days.
This is the guy who used the Public Works Protection Act to bring in a secret regulation that led to mass arrests and a suspension of civil liberties during the G20 Summit in 2010.
But Liberals celebrated his achievements Friday.
By Saturday night, this province will have a new premier-designate.
Most of McGuinty's closest allies are backing Windsor's Sandra Pupatello -- who has said she won't bring back the legislature until she has a seat in the House. That could be April.
Sure, the Liberals have a lot to thank McGuinty for. He brought them back from the political wilderness. He gave them two majority governments. Got Liberal insiders some cushy contracts.
For the rest of us, though, for people who like to see accountability in spending and good government, his legacy is murky at best.
He only squeaked back with a slim majority in 2011. He should have resigned before that election, thus sparing us from this massive mess.
Yes, he's personally a very nice man.
That's what makes this leadership convention so deeply troubling.
It doesn't matter how nice or nasty the winner is.
It's just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
The Liberal legacy of unaccountability, overspending and mismanagement will continue unabated.