THUNDER BAY – It has taken less than a day, but Dalton McGuinty has already pulled back from his scheme to start teaching Ontario students sex education starting in Grade One. The Premier stated today, “It’s become pretty obvious to us that we should give this a serious rethink. We’ll take it off the shelf and bring it back in government.”
“It’s important that we listen very carefully to what parents have to say … (and) they are obviously not comfortable with the proposal that we put forward,” added McGuinty.
The political flip-flop on the plan that would have had elementary children learning about oral and anal sex demonstrates that the Ontario Liberals are starting to look a little tired and weary of the mantle of leadership.
A fresh government would never have put forward such a plan without consulting with parents, or even with MPPs asking their families about the idea. The image of the Ontario Liberals has been blemished over this proposal.
Comments from readers in our original NNL report, that could be published admonished the Premier, the comments that couldn’t be published out-weighed the others. However not one person was fully supportive of the scheme.
Overall, it was a tough day for the Premier. His Earth Day photo-op had to be changed when his handlers decided not to take the chance that the Premier would have to interact with pharmacists who were protesting his changes to drug legislation.
Instead of a public event, the Premier retreated to inside a classroom to interact with students. That is a sure sign that the Premier’s handlers are getting worried.
Likely they should be. Several of the moves by the McGuinty Government are starting to frustrate large numbers of voters.
The problem for the McGuinty Liberals is a simple one – Ontarians go to the polls in October 2011. Many of McGuinty’s initiatives will be in place, including the Premier’s blended sales tax, the HST. By next summer, the cheques that are set to ease Ontarians through the initial costs of the HST will be ending. If the predictions of increased costs for consumers on many items, including power rates, gasoline, home heating and others become an election issue, it is quite possible that the Liberals will not see the same political success that they have had.
In Toronto, plans to delay, while the opposition is saying scrap funding for expanded transit are angering millions of voters. If the delays end up slowing contracts for rail cars for Thunder Bay the issue will likely be one in Thunder Bay as well.
Across Northwestern Ontario, for the Liberals the problem is that the ambitious plans for the “Ring of Fire” are not likely to be creating the new jobs and opportunities in the next two years that the Premier seems to have promised.
It likely is not the top read for most Ontarians, but reading over the Hansard from the Ontario Legislature, one thing continues to repeat. Dalton McGuinty is not all that comfortable with controversy.
When the going gets tough, the Premier steps back and shies away from the fight. If the Ontario Progressive Conservatives had been ready for a hard fought election in 2007, it is possible that the last campaign would have been different.
It is also apparent that McGuinty appears to have a hard time taking tough questions from NDP leader Andrea Horwath. That is likely to come across in televised debates during the 2011 campaign.
The good news for the Liberals is that by pulling this controversial scheme as quickly as they did, it is likely that they will have minimized the damage.
That will eventually be decided by voters on election day in 2011.
That of course is just my opinion, as always, your mileage may vary.