Rex weighs in on Dalton McGuinty's resignation. He says, his days as a political leader are done.
Read a transcript of this Rex Murphy episode
Of all the reasons to leave a sinking ship, that there's another wretched vessel passing by that is sinking even faster, is not the best one. Allow me to try and explain.
Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario has resigned. The great lake boat of state that is Ontario is without its Captain Dad. In announcing his resignation, McGuinty decided to put the entire public business of Ontario on hold, till his party tidies up the quite considerable mess it's gotten into. A very large part of this snarl, of course, was composed under the fearless leadership of the man who is now suddenly fleeing the tattered and listing ship.
Power plants are being cancelled for political gain, at a cost of something like 250 million. His onetime great allies, the unions, are now saying Mr. McGuinty is worse than Mike Harris! In the half-lit world of Ontario political demonology, Mike Harris is just one notch - is it up or down? - from Beelzebub.
Stonewalling in the legislature, revolt in Ontario's rural areas, motions of contempt … McGuinty's skipping out during the political equivalent of Hurricane Igor. From the outside this looks less like a resignation than an escape.
But then there are these talks he might run for the national leadership of the Liberal party. Where does such nonsense come from? The Ontario Liberal party which has had the benefit of 9 years of his close attention is on the brink of collapse and defeat. Is it likely the federal one --- itself a leaking vessel in 3rd place --- would, now, reach out for the exiting leader who's brought the provincial party to tears and anxiety? Temperament. Dalton McGuinty is a kind of low-battery version of the wonderfully vaporous Mr. Herb Gray, Herb Gray, a man whose parliamentary performance lured so many to the delights of watching wet paint making its long slow journey to being not wet. Can it make any sense at all that the man of no glitter whatsoever should enter a competition with a man who overflows with the stuff? Against the light-bearer, Justin Trudeau, Mr. McGuinty doesn't have the whisper of a chance.
Face it, Michael Ignatieff could attempt a comeback and beat Dalton McGuinty for national leadership.
It may be just the measure of how idle, how not yet consequential this Liberal leadership race really is, that improbabilities on this scale are given serious nourishment.
Finally, a truly illustrious blogger has pointed out recently, the record for even high-performing premiers reaching out for the national stage is very daunting. Robert Stanfield, onetime Premier of Nova Scotia, Pierre Trudeau's competitor, as competent and fine a man as to be found in politics, may stand for them all.
Stanfield flourished provincially, was dashed federally.
I simply cannot see it. Provincially by his own resignation; federally by Fate and his record -- as a leader, Dalton's days are done.
For The National, I'm Rex MurphyView / Post Comments