Is Premier Dad Dalton McGuinty getting a bum rap from .. well some allegedly important people?

Jun 4th, 2011 | By | Category: Canadian Provinces

There are still those who think Ontario Premier McGuinty looks too much like the Norman Bates character in Hitchcock’s 1960 Hollywood classic Psycho. And lately they seem to be taking out s new lease on life.

It was not that long ago that even seasoned observers of Ontario politics who did not like Dalton McGuinty were agreeing he was probably close enough for jazz to a “three peat.” He was the likely winner of three straight provincial elections — the Premier Dad who was looking more and more like the very long-lived late 19th century Liberal premier of Ontario, Oliver Mowat,  in office without interruption 1872–1896.

Then it all came crashing down. The simplest explanation is just that the McGuinty government started doing badly in opinion polls. Late last August Jim Coyle at the Toronto Star was predicting “New poll will rock McGuinty’s government … It’s not so much the top-shelf numbers — even if the Progressive Conservatives under Tim Hudak have, for the first time since the 2007 election, moved ahead of the Liberals … Basically, at 36-35, they’re neck and neck and within the poll’s margin of error … What’s significant are the trend lines and leadership numbers … Sixty-four per cent of those surveyed said they believe it’s time for another party to govern …”

Former Essex MPP and deputy speaker of the Ontario Legislature Bruce Crozier, known for his bowties, died in Toronto of an aortic aneurysm, early on the morning of Saturday, June 4, 2011, at the age of 73. He is seen here (l) in the Ontario Legislature with Speaker Mike Brown (c) and Liberal MPP Kathleen Wynne (r). Aaron Harris/CP File photo.

Much more recently, on May 24, 2011 (a week ago this past Tuesday), Premier Dad’s government was doing even worse: “The latest Nanos Poll on Ontario politics is showing that the Ontario Progressive Conservatives are currently leading in the province with 41% support, followed by the McGuinty Liberals at 34%, the NDP at 19% and the Greens at 5%. Of note, the NDP has been the only party significantly trending up lately, registering a six point increase since February 2011.” (Or, as two other reports explained: “New poll shows McGuinty government down in support” and “NDP’s Horwath gaining popularity in Ontario.”)

In some degree, you could say (and some certainly do), the McGuinty government has only itself to blame. See, eg: “Kelly McParland: In Ontario government, ignorance is bliss” ; “eHealth scraps raises and bonuses after Star story” ; “Public sector wages: McGuinty hands ammo to rivals” ; “MacLeod: Dalton McGuinty’s flaccid reign … Do the Liberals have the gumption to face tough financial tests ahead?” ; “E-health raises issues of data management, privacy: panel” ; and “Nurses get payments during public sector wage freeze plus 2.75% hike in 2013.”

Some among the majority of Canadians who did not vote Conservative on May 2 are still passionate about their objections to right-wing agendas. Here former Senate page Brigette DePape, 21, holding a sign reading "Stop Harper," is led from the room as Canada's Governor General David Johnston delivers the Speech from the Throne, June 3, 2011. CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS.

Another problem is that the McGuinty Liberals are getting caught up in the latest strange sea change to the right, signalled regionally by Rob Ford’s election as mayor of Toronto last fall, and Stephen Harper’s strong Ontario showing on May 2. (Or perhaps they at least used to be : note again “the NDP has been the only party significantly trending up lately”? In any case, for the global case here see Rick Salutin’s Toronto Star column of this past Thursday: “Take the economy. Everyone knows that the disaster of 2008, which has clearly not gone away, had nothing to do with excess government spending … Any rise in deficits came mainly from bailouts to banks, or needless warmaking. The point is: The catastrophe had/has no connection to government social or economic spending. Yet the only solutions proposed everywhere are public spending cuts.”)

Still others will say that Premier Dad Dalton McGuinty has himself been getting a worse rap than he deserves in some quarters lately. The Oliver Mowat of the 21st century has gone back to being the angular guy from Ottawa who looks like Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 Hollywood classic Psycho.

Premier McGuinty celebrates announcement that 2011 International Indian Film Academy Weekend and Awards will be held in Ontario’s capital city, June 23rd-25th, with Bollywood superstars Preity Zinta and Anil Kapoor.

A recent example is Margaret Wente’s Globe and Mail column from this past Thursday — yet another installment in her ongoing series of always quite readable too-clever-by-half diatribes on subjects about which she knows far less than someone imagines. This was balanced, in some degree, by Adam Radwanski’s Globe and Mail column yesterday, which more circumspectly observed that “for all his basic decency, Ontarians have never entirely warmed to” Premier Dalton, etc. In my own view it remains attractive to have a politician with “basic decency” as your provincial premnier. But perhaps that has become an eccentric posture in 2011?

Meanwhile, I have been asked to announce that, with the campaign for the fixed-date Ontario provincial election of Thursday, October 6, 2011 now more or less seriously underway, the counterweights editors have returned to the arduous destiny of keeping their “Ontario Tonight” reporting up to date. You can click “Ontario Tonight” on the bar at the top of this page for the latest installment. Or CLICK HERE if that seems too much like work, as another laid-back summer looms in the wings, north of the North American Great Lakes.

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  1. The global recession was hard on economies around the world. Ontario worked with people when others would have cut them loose. The economy is back on track. Ontario jobs are coming back and growth is returning. See the progress report here: http://bit.ly/k2ADga

  2. If a party wants to win by a majority government, the strategy is simple. Scrap the HST!
    Survey the Ontario population with the question, If we scrap the HST, would you vote for us. Quite confident the numbers will be high. Replace the loss of revenue with another vehicle. The HST has made the majority of Ontarians angry and they will retaliate with a vote against the current government.

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