Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty surprised many at Queen's
Park last week ( October 15th ) by announcing to his
Liberal caucus that he will leave politics as soon as a leadership
convention chooses his successor. That leadership convention has
been called for the last weekend of January, 2013.
McGuinty, a 57-year-old Ottawa lawyer, has been premier of
Canada's most populous province since October of 2003. He has
led the Liberal Party of Ontario since December, 1996 and has won
three of four general elections in which he has been party
In making his retirement announcement, McGuinty told his
colleagues that now was " the right time for Ontario's
next Liberal Premier and our next set of ideas to guide our
province forward". Highlighting his major accomplishments in
office, McGuinty cited progress in areas like education, health
care, the environment and tax reform.
But there was more than a retirement message from the departing
Premier on the evening of October 15th. To the
consternation of many, McGuinty also revealed at his press
conference that he had asked Lieutenant-Governor David Onley to
prorogue the current session of the Ontario Legislature. The
Premier gave as his reason for proroguing the legislature his wish
to conclude a negotiated settlement with Ontario's public
sector unions away from the rancorous politics of the daily
The legislature is now prorogued with the result that all
legislative business has stopped until after the Liberal leadership
convention in late January. Among the legislative proceedings shut
down by this prorogation was an Opposition-led inquiry into two
controversial power plants initially planned for the southwest GTA
and now to be re-located to Sarnia and the Napanee area of eastern
Ontario. It seems that energy issues are destined to follow the
Liberals throughout their leadership campaign and beyond.
Among those who are considering a run for the leadership are the
current finance minister Dwight Duncan, a long-serving MPP from
Windsor,; Kathleen Wynne, the current minister of Municipal Affairs
and Housing and a well-known Toronto MPP; and Gerard Kennedy, the
former Liberal MPP and MP for Toronto High-Park and the first
education minister in the McGuinty cabinet. Other ministers like
Charles Sousa ( Citizenship ) and Glen Murray ( Higher Education )
are also known to thinking about joining the race.
Much speculation surrounds the leadership intentions of Energy
Minister Chris Bentley and Health Minister Deb Matthews. Both
Bentley and Matthews are London MPPs and both have been caught up
in very controversial issues recently. Deb Matthews has been on the
Queen's Park ' hot seat ' for months over dramatic
revelations of maladministration at Ornge, Ontario's embattled
air-ambulance system. And Chris Bentley, long considered a front
runner to succeed Dalton McGuinty , has been bogged down in the
nasty battle to locate power plants in the GTA. Their decisions
will be critical to the outcome of this contest.
Once a new Liberal leader and premier is chosen in late January,
that new premier may either meet the legislature with a new cabinet
and a new program or, as happened federally in the spring of 1968,
the new premier might follow Pierre Trudeau's example of going
directly to the people for a new mandate in a general election.
Either way, Ontario is in for some uncertainty over the next few
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