How Deep are the Cracks in the McGuinty Liberal Fortress?

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THUNDER BAY – In October 2009, Ipsos Reid reported, “The Liberal Fortress of Dalton McGuinty is beginning to crack under the relentless assault of the economy and opposition outcry over government scandal and financial mismanagement.

There has not been a poll since, but if you consider that it only took Premier Daltom McGuinty fifty-four hours to completely back down from his plans to change Ontario’s education curriculum to start sex-ed in Grade One and boost it in Grade Three, it is likely that the internal polls for the Ontario Liberals are showing that voters are not happy.

Perhaps at issue with the McGuinty Government is that the long-term plan has been peppered with massive doses of optimism and sunshine, and the reality of Ontario is going to start impacting the Ontario Liberals.

On the sex education plans, McGuinty who styles himself as the “Education Premier” was hit hard by the perception of what was a step over parents.

Reading editorials from across Ontario, it is starting to appear that what were cracks in the McGuinty armour are rapidly becoming larger.

In October, Ipsos Reid stated, “Having been bombarded from all sides – the eHealth, Lotto and Cancer Care Ontario scandals, ministerial, directorship and management resignations, un-tendered contracts with expenses run amok, a scathing auditor’s reporting highlighting “no value” for money paid, engorged consultants and now the largest projected deficit in Ontario’s history – the armour that has been to this point protecting the Majority McGuinty Liberals is beginning to wear thin”.

There has not been a public poll on the Ontario political scene since then by Ipsos Reid.

That the McGuinty Government would drop in the polls is, of course, one of the normal happenings for any government. It is also normal for any politician who has been in office.

Holding office means making decisions, and in all cases the decisions made in office will impact  it doesn’t take long, and today the voter patience, or attention span might be shorter than in the past.

In Northern Ontario, increasingly despite massive amounts of money being poured into the region, there still appears to be a politically lethal combination of anger and a desire for change.

Issues like the sex education McGuintyism, which erupted like a prairie grass-fire are likely easily fixed. Issues like the Premier’s blending of the PST and GST are likely to have longer-term political impact.

So too is the provincial debt. In the North, one of the concerns should be a simple one, what will happen in our region once the provincial government starts to focus on paying down the debt?

Will much of the money poured into the region have generated long-term manufacturing jobs, and other self-sustaining jobs that build our region’s future prosperity, or will we simply watch another economic downturn be the result?

The short-term stimulus is all good, but the real measure of the McGuinty Government in 2011 will be how voters feel the economy is going, and how encouraged they are about Ontario’s future.

That of course is just my opinion, as always, your mileage may vary.

James Murray

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