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  • Rob Snow

The Ghost of McGuinty

Mike Harris and Bob Rae.

Their names came up so often during the Ontario election campaign, you'd think they were running for office.

It's time to add the name of another ghost, one more ex-Premier who can haunt elections for decades to come: Dalton McGuinty.

It appears voters are set to boot the Ontario Liberals in the behind, delivering a thrashing of historic proportions. (I'm writing this about 90 minutes before the polls close.) It's as much judgment day for Dalton McGuinty as anyone else running for the Liberal Party of Ontario.

By now "15 years of Liberal rule" is a familiar refrain. Mr. McGuinty owns a full decade of the disaster. I only wonder when some will start speaking about "Premier Dad" with the same derision saved for Bob Rae and Mike Harris.

So many of the screw ups, the billion dollar boondoggles, the wayward green ideology predate Kathleen Wynne. If one is to pity her at all - and there's not much pity to be found - it's only that she spent so much of her single term desperately defending - and then desperately trying to fix Mr. McGuinty's many whoppers.

It was Dalton McGuinty who dispatched George Smitherman to South Korea to sign a sole-sourced, eye popping green energy deal with Samsung, setting in motion the hydro crisis that played such a dominant role in this campaign.

Dalton McGuinty made the decision to cancel a pair of gas-fired power plants, without an ounce of regret. David Livingston, the man sentenced to four months in jail for his role in the subsequent coverup, was a McGuinty man.

The ORNGE Air Ambulance scandal unfolded on Mr. McGuinty's watch. The lavish compensation, the maze of private interests, the blatant nepotism, cronyism and kick-backs never raised an eyebrow with anyone in McGuinty's government, let alone the man at the top.

Even McGuinty's once rock-solid relationship with teachers unions ended up in tatters. His move to impose a contract on teachers and reign in their sick days ended up losing in court. Cheques were still being paid to some education workers in the lead up to the writ period, as Kathleen Wynne tried to win them back just one more time.

Kathleen Wynne stayed until the bitter end. And what a bitter pill it must be. Dalton McGuinty went for his walk in the snow, seemingly setting up Wynne to take the fall in the tradition of John Turner or Kim Campbell. I don't think McGuinty ever thought she would mount the comeback she did four years ago, or the Hudak campaign would implode with such gusto.

Now the ultimate indignity.

John Fraser is McGuinty's long time company man and the heir of Ottawa South. He's not even flying the party colours. Instead the riding is sprinkled with yellow and black lawn signs that are about as inspirational as a no-name soup can.

History is written by the winners.

Mike Harris will always wear the Walkerton tragedy. Bob Rae will forever defend Rae Days. Kathleen Wynne and all of Ontario will always be haunted by the ghost of Dalton McGuinty.

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