Dalton McGuinty

A toast to McGuinty or a toast to his departure?

Every pundit, commentator, and Joe Schmoe with a Twitter account has weighed in on Dalton McGuinty’s legacy today. The range of opinions is vast, as you might expect for any leader who has been in power for nearly a decade – even one as bland, centrist, and pragmatic as Dalton McGuinty. I’m sure we’ll see the same spectrum of analysis when Stephen Harper finally decides to call it a career and focus all of his energies on finishing the hockey book.

While I found McGuinty a bit too risk-averse for my liking during his first term, I’ve grown rather fond of the man since moving to Ontario, so I won’t pretend to be unbiased in my assessment. I do think you can objectively say he made tangible improvements to Ontario’s education system, and struggled to get the province’s financial house in order during a recession that hit Ontario especially hard.

Faced with the downturn, he did show boldness bringing in the HST and trying to get civil servant contracts under control. I think those moves were for the better, others will feel they were for the worse (including many Liberals), but you can’t say he did them as a cynical vote grab – those were gutsy decisions, taken to dig Ontario out from under a mound of debt. To me, they elevate McGuinty beyond being merely a political autobot programmed to hold power, into a true leader who is worthy of adoration or hate. That’s why we’re seeing the full gamut of emotions today.

On the whole, voters themselves likely passed the fairest judgment on the McGuinty legacy. He was given a rare third term after a campaign in which he ran hard on his record – but it was far from a resounding endorsement. So, “good but not great“…which is better than voters will say about most politicians.

There was obviously a lot more to Dalton McGuinty’s time as Premier than that, but how you view his legacy will depend largely on your political stripes. Personally, I feel both the Liberal Party and Ontario benefited from McGuinty’s time in power, and will be worse off with his departure.

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Ontario Politics

About CalgaryGrit

A former Calgary Liberal, now living in Toronto. My writings on politics can be found at www.calgarygrit.ca and online at the National Post.

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4 Responses to Dalton McGuinty

  1. Teddy Boragina

    …So, he improved education in the province with some of the worst transportation in Canada?

    If McGunity had actually paid attention to the issues that matter to people, I might respect him more.

    • CalgaryGrit

      Is between city transportation really that bad in Ontario? The highways are in relatively good shape, and the government has shown a willingness to invest in municipal/regional projects via Metrolinx/etc. I’d say the transit problems within certain cities are as much the fault of the local governments as the province.

      • Paul O

        One of the biggest problems Ontario faces today is the seemingly inescapable idea that everything has to be centered on Yonge and Front Streets in downtown Toronto.

        The government needs to do much more to encourage development of a geographically diversified range of employment centres with easy access to major transit corridors.

  2. Vancouverois

    Not a word about the cancelled power plants that are expect to cost several hundred million dollars?

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