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The Ontario Election: Dalton McGuinty and Keeping the Rules Straight


Well, as the Provincial election in Ontario comes to a climax, I have some thoughts.
As always, the convergence of politics, environmental issues and how the press reports same are playing a role. In the recent leadership debate McGuinty’s green energy policies came under attack, as did last week’s decision to stop construction of a gas-fired power plant currently under construction by Eastern Power in the City of Mississauga.
This was totally a political decision. McGuinty’s assertion that the decision was because ‘circumstances have changed’ is nothing but an outright lie. The decision was a last minute effort to save the seat of long term MPP Charles Sousa and to help the re-election chances of other neighbouring MPP’s and candidates.
While this may not be seen as an important issue by the overall voters in Ontario, I think it defines McGuinty (yes, he is my second cousin) as an indecisive leader lacking the courage to stand behind his policy decisions. My experience was a little different, but the same overtones were there in McGuinty lacking a little political backbone.
McGuinty killed the Adams Mine Landfill in Kirkland Lake three months after being elected Premier in 2004. The Adams Mine had received a valid Certificate of Approval after a public hearing by the Environmental Assessment Board and we were prepared to begin construction. During that election McGuinty only said he would ensure the process was fair. However, after the election, David Ramsay, the MPP elected in Temiskaming, threatened to quit his cabinet post if the government let the site be developed. McGuinty rolled over and eliminated the only new landfill approved in Ontario in ten years. We can say thank you to Michigan for saving our ass from a huge garbage crisis.
McGuinty, and his government, talk a good game about the environment but, when push comes to shove, they cancel projects under construction and pass legislation to eliminate badly needed solutions even if they have valid Certificates of Approval. All of this is done at a time when financial restraint is required but these decisions are costing the taxpayers of Ontario millions of dollars in settlement payouts which he refuses to reveal. (I am under a confidentiality agreement not to disclose the payment my company received from the government for ‘reasonable expenses’.)
I have no reason to suggest that Tim Hudak or Andrea Horwath would have any more courage than McGuinty because politics, not common sense, have priority during an election. (Where have I heard those words before?)
In a seminar I deliver called “The Working With Leadership Workshop”, I talk about how the real leaders who generate respect are the ones who have the courage to “keep the rules straight”. In my view Dalton McGuinty has failed that test, he keeps changing the rules.
It will be interesting to see if the Ontario electorate has had enough of it.
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