Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dalton McGuinty: Yesterday's Man Renewed

Desperate, pathetic McGuinty cries 'hidden agenda'

The Toronto Star calls it "feisty". Anyone with a memory of what transpired in Canadian politics over the past 20 years will recognize it for precisely what it is: pathetic.

Of course, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty must expect that Ontarians have a short memory. How else to explain his desperate "hidden agenda" gambit?

Canadians are very familar with the "hidden agenda" gambit. It was a fear tactic, invoked by former Prime Minister Paul Martin, suggesting current Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a "hidden agenda".

How did the story end? The train wreck of corruption that was the Liberal Party became unigorable in the eyes of Canadians, Martin's government was rightly found wanting, his desperation recognized, and Martin was rightly sent packing, never to return.

Four years later, another embattled Liberal -- McGuinty -- has resorted to this pathetic and transparent gambit, just as his opposition seems poised to relegate him to the opposition benches.

This time it's Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak, and it comes as Hudak points to the increasing burden McGuinty's government has become to the citizens of Ontario.

“After seven years it has become very clear Premier McGuinty believes in his heart that Ontario families have an infinite capacity to pay for every idea that your team dreams up,” Hudak announced. “They can’t keep up with your hydro bills, they can’t keep up with your HST increase, they can’t keep up with your eco taxes. Families need a break.”

For his own part, McGuinty predictably wanted to change the subject -- to health care.

“Ontario families better ask themselves what’s their secret agenda when it comes to health care," McGuinty announced. "What’s going to happen to their hospitals, their nurses and doctors?”

Of course, the switch to health care wasn't by any means a random change of topic. It was deliberate. Nothing so frightens Canadians as the prospect of deep cuts to health care -- even as health care becomes more and more unsustainable, as governments such as McGuinty's continue to allow it to slide.

“We have a broader, and I think more intelligent understanding of what Ontario families’ concerns are," McGuinty preened. "Yes they’re concerned about their expenses ... levels of taxation.”

“But we will not take our eye off the ball of those other concerns families have,” he continued.

Yet it seems that as support for the Progressive Conservative Party strengthens, and support for the Liberal Party erodes, more and more Ontarians are questioning the broadness or the intelligence of McGuinty's purported understanding of their concerns.

So the Ontario Liberal Party's option of choice is to rewind to yesterday -- regurgitate the "hidden agenda". Run against Mike Harris rather than against Tim Hudak.

It won't work any better for Dalton McGuinty than it did for Paul Martin.

While the Toronto Star may applaud it as "feisty", Ontarians will surely recognize it for what it really is: desperate and pathetic.

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