THUNDER BAY – Dalton McGuinty will resign his seat in the Ontario Legislature on Wednesday. The former premier has come under fire in recent months over several issues, the main one being the Gas Plant Scandal. The Ontario Government, under McGuinty’s leadership cancelled two gas plants, at a cost to taxpayers of almost $500 million.
Dalton McGuinty Set to Resign
For Thunder Bay, Dalton McGuinty seemed to have a love-hate relationship with the north. In 2007, during a campaign stop in our city, then Premier McGuinty told an audience at the city’s Bombardier manufacturing facility that “Ontario Liberals think Ontarians can – and should – lead the development of hydrogen alternatives for the world,” enthused the Liberal leader. In a press release, the Liberals said, “The hydrogen commuter train is exactly the type of initiative envisioned when the Ontario Liberal government created the new $650 million Next Generation Jobs Fund”. McGuinty said. “Ontario Liberals want to expand the Fund by a further $500 million after the October 10th election”.
It was the last time the Premier mentioned the word hydrogen and the issue has not been raised since.
Flood Announcement – Nope
Premier Dalton McGuinty never stepped up and made an announcement in support of the May 2012 Flood in Thunder Bay. Thats right, not one word. At the time he dispatched now Premier Wynne to the north to check out conditions in our city.
Later in the summer, the Premier’s press staff made a point of tweeting how they did make an announcement about the flooding in Wawa. It was in effect like rubbing salt in a Thunder Bay wound.
Far North Act
The Far North Act, is another case where Dalton McGuinty promised then Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief that the legislation would not pass without consent from NAN. Then Dalton got into the airplane south and seemingly forgot that promise. The Far North Act was passed without consent from First Nations.
“The Premier has some explaining to do. He is not beyond accounting for his actions,” statedthen Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose. “If the McGuinty Liberals were serious about working with First Nations and addressing these issues the Premier would make himself available.” The Deputy Grand Chief says Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is ducking First Nations issues by refusing to participate in a northern Ontario leaders’ debate in the run-up to the provincial election.
“The Premier has a duty to answer the tough questions that are being put to him by First Nations, and other northern Ontario leaders. Dalton McGuinty is willing to come north for a barbeque, but won’t show up when there are tough questions to be answered,” charged the Deputy Grand Chief. “This is a question of accountability. If the Premier is a no-show for the debate, it simply proves our concern that First Nations are not a priority for the McGuinty Liberals.”
Northern Leaders Debate – No Show
For business leaders in the north, Dalton McGuinty’s skipping out on the Northern Leaders Debate hosted by NOMA was another sign, perhaps that the Premier didn’t hold the North and its massive wealth potential in mining royalties as seriously as he could.
Charming and Engaging
In contrast, to sit down with Dalton McGuinty the former Premier comes across with a bevy of stories and is an engaging person. His policies however no matter what your political leanings impacted the north.
The Rosehart Report that led to the Northern Growth Plan and to the creation of a Northern Think Tank is likely one of the most positive legacies that McGuinty could have left the north.
It is hard when a politician retires not to be all congratulatory. On a personal level, one can wish Dalton McGuinty all the best. On a provincial level, Dalton McGuinty ran up the credit card bill and left a massive debt that will be generations to pay off.
Our two local MPPS have praised the former Premier for his vision.
It would be wrong to completely hammer Dalton McGuinty for all of Ontario’s ills. Voters supported Dalton McGuinty for his vision and policies.
Here in Thunder Bay we have two hard working MPPs in Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle. We can hope that both our local MPPs are able to get their voices and northern issues front and centre at the cabinet table and around the caucus table.
Our region faces serious challenges, and it will take more than happy words to fix them all.