It was a friendly reception for David Axelrod, the U.S. political strategist who spoke in Toronto on Tuesday.
Axelrod, who was one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s chief political advisers for his first term and during both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, was asked a variety of political questions throughout the night, mostly focused around his work with Obama and the U.S. government shutdown.
But he did field a question on Ontario politics. As a strategist-for-hire in 2002, Axelrod worked on the provincial campaign of Dalton McGuinty, and helped the Liberal Opposition leader become premier the next year.
Sue Ann Levy, a Toronto Sun columnist, asked, “I want to know what you did so well to inflict Dalton McGuinty on us for 10 years, and whether you kept up with the scandals that have followed him, like the $1-billion gas plant scandal.”
Her question was received with a chorus of boos from the audience.
“My relationship with Dalton was rather short,” said Axelrod. “I gave him some message advice for a few months in his 2002 campaign. There was a strong movement within his group to make it an all-Canadian operation, so that was the last of my association with him.”
He then added: “I understand the controversy that you’re referring to, but I feel like I don’t have to answer your question.“
Now the director of the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, Axelrod was speaking at the behest of the Reena Foundation, an organization for developmentally disabled people. Axelrod spoke at length about his daughter, who suffers from epilepsy. He talked about how the Affordable Health Care For America Act, Obama’s marquee piece of legislation frequently called Obamacare, would have helped his family during her illness.