Northerners weigh in on McGuinty resignation – by Benjamin Aubé (Sudbury Star – October 18, 2012)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Reaction is pouring in from political and water-cooler circles across Ontario in the days following Premier Dalton McGuinty’s resignation.

The decision did not fall on deaf ears in the North of the province, where some of the McGuinty government’s actions have come under much fire as of late.

McGuinty will remain at his post until a new party leader is selected, which could take months. As a result, McGuinty announced the prorogation of the legislature, essentially stalling regular proceedings at Queen’s Park until further notice.

For the Liberals, who fell just short of gaining a majority government last month after losing the Kitchener–Waterloo riding byelection to the NDP, the move is being celebrated for the prospect of rejuvenating the party’s vision.

Timmins-James Bay Provincial Liberal Association president Gaetan Groleau has been with the organization since 1999, and has watched McGuinty and his vision at work from the very beginning.

“His mantra was education and health care from the start, and he’s done a great job of improving both in the last nine years,” said Groleau, who cited improving test scores in schools, full-time junior kindergarten, smaller class sizes and lower health-care related wait times.

“Environmentally, we’re greener now that we’ve ever been. Every piece of highway in the North has been repaved and every bridge redone. When you step back and look at what he’s done in the past 10 years and ask if we’re better off now than before, I think we are.”

Asked about his reaction when hearing about McGuinty’s resignation on Monday, Groleau said his first thought was, “It’s a great day to be a Liberal.”

“What a time of renewal this is going to be. I think his vision has run its course now. With education and health care, he’s done an excellent job of what he wanted to do. It’s now time to look for somebody else who has another vision and fresher ideas. What a great opportunity.”

Due to the prorogation of the parliament, the opposition points out that upcoming legislative inquiries on the recent ORNGE air ambulance affair and the ever-changing price tag of the Mississauga and Oakville gas plant fiasco have been quashed for the time being. The Liberals have admitted taxpayers owe $190 million for the relocation of the gas plants, while opponents claim it could be more than $600 million.

The decision to prorogue parliament has sparked controversy and anger in the political world, especially in the North, where some politicians say they can see right through what they believe is a strategic move for the Liberals.

“Certainly, it’s fair to say he was trying to avoid the pending implications of the ORNGE air ambulance situation, as well as the inquiry on the relocation of those power plants (in Mississauga and Oakville),” said Kapuskasing Mayor Alan Spacek, who is also president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM). “There’s a number of issues he was going to have to face the music on. My understanding is that all of those things died when he prorogued the House.”

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