McGuinty Should Step Aside

Given the makeup of the Ontario legislature, I assume this Liberal government has at least two years- possibly even a full term- before any threat of an election looms. With that realistic backdrop in mind, I think the provincial Liberals would be wise to consider a transition plan, set a course that incumbents rarely appreciate, if the ultimate goal is continued implementation of philosophy, rather than ego driven pursuits.

I’m as happy as the next person about the election result, and seriously have nothing but praise for the Liberal campaign and the Premier in general. McGuinty was unflappable, he conveyed quiet confidence, it was those traits that served him well in this campaign. It really was an incredible reversal of fortunes, considered dead and buried, McGuinty defied all expectations and won a very historic victory, that cements his legacy. However, the winning side of every campaign has a tendency post-election to gloss over any fundamental problems, even the mere mention of concerns unwanted negativity.

RARELY, does a politician step aside at the right moment, too often it is the voters who ultimately force a retirement rather than graceful exit. Here’s hoping that Dalton McGuinty, and the Liberal team can see beyond this victory and appreciate an erosion which is likely to continue in the future. Liberals received 600000 less votes this election, and if you look at the electoral map, you see a narrowing area of appeal, dangerously analogous to the federal cousin decline. Despite the victory, I would argue this Liberal regime has reached it’s apex and the future is very uncertain. The Liberals won no new ridings, the same gang will rule Ontario and there is every reason to believe Ontarians will eventually desire a new direction.

In this election, Liberals benefited from a clumsily opponent who essentially “threw it away”. This realization doesn’t discount from the terrific campaign we ran, nor does it undercut McGuinty’s personal triumph, but rather than get out the thunder sticks, I think it important to look at the horizon with a sober and detached perspective.

Dalton McGuinty mused awhile ago that he was contemplating retirement, only to pull back when any admission equated to lame duck or lack of desire, something opponents could use against them. In my mind, the shrewd strategy is for the Ontario Liberals to quietly cultivate some sort of transition logic, do the impossible and reinvent the brand while still in office, which can be achieved when a new leader comes forth(British Columbia a terrific example here). The ideal situation would be for Mr. McGuinty to continue to put his stamp on the province, then a couple years in, announce a retirement and allow the Liberals to pump in fresh air. This scenario offers the best circumstance to win another mandate in the future. I see this election as more “dodged a bullet” than a terrific endorsement of the Liberals, the numbers support this view, as does a detached perspective.

Craziness, I know.

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