McGuinty chooses odd targets
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty speaks to reporters in Niagara Falls on Nov. 26, 2011 at the Liberal Party's provincial council meeting at the Scotiabank Convention Centre. (QMI Agency/Brett Clarkson)
It’s a lot of fun watching Premier Dad using his newfound spine.
Nobody knows if he found it lying around the office at Queen’s Park, or finally just grew it all by himself.
It’s not as if the leader of the Dalton Gang was totally without a spine in the past.
He just didn’t use it unless he could see his opponents were so weak that there was little to no chance they’d stand their ground.
In the past, he flexed his spine against pit bulls, cigarettes when smoked in cars with young fry present, and open shelving for tobacco.
But none of these objects cast a vote and the humans most affected by the government moving against them were spread throughout so many ridings, they posed little threat to the Liberal brand come election time.
McGuinty used the same calculation, but missed the target badly, when he stood tall and strong against rural Ontarians who opposed the development of wind factories in their communities.
That opposition was more organized and widespread that the slickers at Queen’s Park had figured and the move cost the premier his rural seats in the last election.
Being premier and all, McGuinty has an eye on how he’ll look to historians. He wants to be remembered as both the green premier (see aforementioned wind factories) and the education premier.
Hence the spine was there in all its glory when it came to fighting for junior kindergarten, to the tune of $1 billion plus a year, in a province that lost its financial statement down a black hole.
McGuinty talked about using his spine a few times in the past but wimped out and ran away like a whipped puppy when he faced real opposition.
The most memorable example was the idea back around 2010 of a voluntary wage freeze for civil servants.
When they objected, his response was, “Never mind, here’s a big raise instead.”
Now that the premier has found his spine he is using it in strange ways, against doctors and the Catholic separate school system, which is supported by provincial funds.
First he is taking his battle against ever-escalating health costs to the front door of doctors’ offices across the province.
Nobody would deny there are issues with the way doctors are paid in this province, but flexing your muscles and straightening your spine hardly seems the way to deal with them.
And then there’s the premier’s other new enemy, the Catholic school system and with it the Catholic church.
McGuinty has stood tall and told those folks that anti-homophobia support groups in Catholic schools can be called “gay” clubs if the members so desire.
On the surface it seems like a strange issue to show some guts about, but admittedly it’s complicated being related to bullying and all.
It just seems weird that the two groups the premier decided to tackle are viewed by folks as miracle workers. Many doctors are God-like to their patients and the Catholic church is an institution that continues to be in the miracles business.
Maybe the premier will take his new strength and use it against others in need of being sorted, to use a British term, such as offshore companies that have taken all the fun and most of the profit out of green energy initiatives in Ontario.
With his record it’s more likely he’ll try to fix our financial woes by buying shares in Facebook.