Commentary – A Wynne, Wynne situation

Mac Olsen

Just as I felt on Nov. 8, 2016, when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, I feel the same about Doug Ford becoming the new premier of Ontario.

As the old song goes, Happy Days Are Here Again!

What a surprise – and joy – it was to see the Ontario Liberal Party go down to a crushing defeat on June 7.

At press time, former premier Kathleen Wynne and only six other Liberals were left to take their place at Queen’s Park in Toronto. I thought they would become the Official Opposition, at the very least, but Andrea Horwath and the NDP have taken over that role.

I wish Wynne had lost her seat as well, to add insult to injury.

I can legitimately compare Wynne to Hillary Clinton. They were both arrogant and forced their parties to follow their lead, even if that meant undercutting or marginalizing the moderates or critics in their ranks.

In Wynne’s case, one of the biggest uproars she caused was her green energy commitments. This included high electricity bills and compelling rural municipalities and residents to accept windmills for power generation.

Many Ontario residents became very angry at Wynne when their electricity bills increased exponentially, with no reprieve in sight. That, I have no doubt, was one of the reasons for the backlash against her in this election.

But the biggest thing that Wynne and her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, have to answer for is cancellation of two gas plants at a cost of $1.1 billion. Ontario taxpayers were the ultimate losers, because they had to pay for the scandal that resulted.

Nonetheless, I am very pleased she and the Ontario Liberal Party is out of power. That party ran the province for 15 years and it was time for change.

As for Doug Ford, certainly he achieved a compelling victory. At press time, he and the Ontario PC Party had won 76 of the 124 seats. And his Ford Nation campaign caught on with many voters. Ford presented himself as a populist, looking out for the interests of all Ontario residents, and he has made the pronouncement that he will make himself accessible to everyone.

Still, Ford has a mountain to climb. He’s considered lacking in experience for the job he now holds. When he gave his victory speech on election night, he sounded very monotone and plodding in his delivery – something very counter intuitive if you’re trying to present yourself as a charismatic figure.

Moreover, during the campaign, he didn’t spell out specifics for his economic agenda, including how his proposed tax cuts will be offset by reductions in government spending and programs.

However, the real albatross around his neck is his brother’s legacy. Although Doug Ford alluded fondly to Rob Ford’s memory in his victory speech, his brother was brash and fraught with scandal, which included smoking crack cocaine.

Nonetheless, Doug Ford must be given a chance to prove himself.

The Ontario PC Party’s victory gives me hope that the United Conservative Party in Alberta and the federal Conservative Party will be as successful in their respective elections in 2019.

Those would be happy days, indeed!

 

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