Dalton McGuinty is talking about how Ontario voters might be headed to the polls

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editorialTHUNDER BAY – Dalton McGuinty is talking about how Ontario voters might be headed to the polls if he doesn’t get his way with his budget bill. In a statement the Premier says, “Andrea Horwath breaking her word a second time at this late stage has left us with absolutely no choice — we will be forced to take this to the people”. Over the past several weeks, the Progressive Conservatives have been busy nominating candidates.

The NDP leader issued a statement today hoping that the Premier along with PC leader Tim Hudak and her can meet this weekend to come to an agreement.

The Liberals are rattling their political swords over the possibility of an election.

Based on recent poll numbers, one which had the McGuinty Liberals in third place, going to the voters right now is not likely what most Liberals would like to do.

If there were a summer election, the anger over that election would cover the news cycle for the first day or so, and then it would be campaigning as usual.

The Premier likely would face some serious issues on the campaign trail that he has not faced directly in Queen’s Park. Often since being reduced to a minority government leader last year, it sometimes appears that Dalton McGuinty has lost some of the zest for the job as Premier. That could be a major factor in an election campaign.

May’s job numbers where Ontario lost 30,000 jobs would not bode well for the incumbent Liberals, nor would the debt figures.

Regardless of your political leanings, the reality is that the McGuinty Government has, in effect spent the future for at least one generation, and possibly two generations here in Ontario.

Looking at the uncertainty in the Euro-zone, right now Ontario is not as strong as it should be in tackling what could be a looming recession.

Here in the North, the Premier’s perceived slow response to the flooding crisis in Thunder Bay – real or not – will likely be a factor in both local races. It won’t really matter that the factors could be different, in politics, perception is reality.

Likely one of the factors in the local race will be Dalton McGuinty and how people perceive his understanding of the North. If that were the only factor, chances are both local Liberal MPPs would be defeated.

However the redeeming factor for the Liberals has been no matter what the Premier has done in the north: promising to build hydrogen powered rail and never doing it; promising to not enact the Far North Act without the agreement of Nishnawbe Aski Nation; or not coming north for a Leader’s Debate in September 2011, some in the north vote the way they always have.

Likely that is more a message of support for Bill Mauro and Michael Gravelle than a broad endorsement of Dalton McGuinty.

It would be both wrong and foolish to declare that the McGuinty Government doesn’t care about the north. However the reality is that the mineral wealth in our region could, properly managed and directed could help fuel Ontario on the comeback trail.

It often appears that the Premier really doesn’t quite get our region as well as he could. An election could send that message to Queen’s Park in a loud voice. Depending on the message voters send, it could spur greater action on issues important to our region.

Will it?

Time will tell.

James Murray