Monday, October 15, 2012

On self-destruction

I'm sure we'll eventually learn more about the reasons why Dalton McGuinty decided to jump ship. But it's worth pointing out how his move looks to completely undercut his own party.

After all, Ontario's Libs have spent nearly a decade branding McGuinty as the dull but reliable Premier Dad - and followed up on that by echoing the Harper Cons' rhetoric about stability. Which makes McGuinty's abrupt and not-particularly-well-explained departure an especially striking development.

Now, the Ontario Libs will have to set up a leadership campaign and debate what exactly they stand for as a party before choosing a new leader. And all this in a minority legislature (and a time when the Libs were already falling behind two opposition parties in the polls).

Which is to say that having already gone out of his way to lose the confidence of the labour movement, McGuinty has effectively trashed the message which helped his party cling to power last year. And that means that whoever succeeds McGuinty shouldn't count on staying in office for long.

[Edit: fixed wording.]


  1. Oh and McGuinty prorogued the legislature when a contempt of parliament was weaving it's way through - so I see the Ontario Libs don't have a problem with that when it's their man doing that but were so vocal and over-the-top when Harper did it - such hypercrits!

  2. Greg,

    You are displaying hubris reminiscent of Tim Hudak.

    The perceived chaos of the Rae/Harris years gifted the Ontario Liberals with "natural governing party" status. This gratitude was, of course, undeserved. The Liberals were essentially rewarded for twiddling their thumbs...once during global economic turmoil, and later during a reactionary class war which left bodies in its wake.

    After almost a decade of Liberal rule in Ontario, you will find something quite peculiar in the casual reaction of many Ontarians. Though the Liberal party & its various ministers have been responsible for gross mismanagement & financial losses...many citizens choose to personalize that incompetence: "McGuinty is responsible for the HST!", "McGuinty is responsible for the Mississauga plant debacle!", "McGuinty is responsible for ORNGE!".

    The implication of this perception is that the Liberal party itself survives as a governing force. The sins of the past, swept away with McGuinty's resignation. The prospect of better days, plausible under a new leader.

    IMO, the opposition parties themselves are partly responsible for this. They failed to understand the context in which the Ontario Liberals swept into power. This led them to react as if the Liberals were a cyclical rather than "cultural" force. More importantly, they chose to personalize their attacks against McGuinty. This gave Ontarians license to ignore the perpetual, endemic failure of Liberal party rule.

    As a result, the Ontario opposition parties still have a great struggle ahead of them. It is pure hubris to suggest: "whoever succeeds McGuinty shouldn't count on staying in office for long".

    Remain vigilant,
    Dan Tan

    1. I'm not sure we disagree on much here except the question of whether the "steady hand" perception was based primarily on McGuinty himself (in which case his precipitous departure and prorogation thoroughly undercut exactly the force that's kept them in power), or something else about the party that might survive his resignation. But while I don't think any party should take anything for granted about what comes next, I wouldn't want to bet on the latter.

    2. Greg,


      Though we disagree, I appreciate that you did not confuse my respect for our enemies with nefarious collusion (cough! Jan! cough!).

      Dan Tan

  3. Oh Dan, which part of the NDP winning the by election in Kitchener/Waterloo did you miss? A long time held safe Conservative seat, won big time by Ontario Orange Crush, and the Liberals a "distant 3rd" place.
    The McGuinty Liberals do take the hit because so many of their cabinet ministers became embroiled in the mismanagement. In fact, one cabinet minister has a contempt charge weaving it's way through the prorogued legislature. That will resume when the legislature is recalled.
    You are so dreaming but Liberals are dreamers.
    Pray tell, when will the Ontario Liberals start screaming and yelling about that prorogue? What about democracy? I'm tapping my foot and waiting for the Liberal drama scene to unfold.

  4. Jan,

    You enjoy the assumption that all of Ontario will fall as easily as Kitchener/Waterloo.

    I will consider the struggle to take places like Vaughan. The "orange crush" there inspired a popular vote of 11%.

    During the last provincial election, Tim Hudak shared your fanciful assumptions about the effect of corruption & voter fatigue.

    Confident in his longstanding personal & party approval numbers, he could not bring himself to understand the factors outlined in my original post.

    He did not concede what needed to be conceded, and he did not attack what needed to be attacked. As a result, Ontario will soon reach a decade of Liberal rule.

    Rather than follow Tim Hudak as a model, I am suggesting we take some lessons from Brian Topp & Adrian Dix in British Columbia.

    But have it as you please,
    Dan Tan

  5. Anonymous1:27 AM

    yeah I sometimes consider that :D

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