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There’s an election underway in Ontario, with the Liberals, led by Kathleen Wynne, trying to hold onto power against the Tim Hudak-led Progressive Conservatives and Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats.
Ms. Wynne is in a tricky position. Though long a senior Liberal, she only took over as leader of the party — and by extension, Ontario premier — 15 months ago, after the former premier, Dalton McGuinty, resigned. Mr. McGuinty took his ball and went home in the face of mounting evidence that the Liberals had blown a billion dollars of borrowed money to cancel two controversial gas-fired power plants, long championed by his government, in order to shore up his party’s prospects in several hotly contested ridings.
It worked. The Liberals held the seats. But the crass opportunism of the move, combined with the eye-popping price tag and efforts to whitewash the entire affair, destroyed Mr. McGuinty’s credibility. So he left. That’s where Ms. Wynne came in, and she’s been been trying to disassociate herself from Mr. McGuinty and the gas plants ever since.
In theory, at any rate. She apologized for the scandal. She insists she’s running as her own woman, on her record, not that of Mr. McGuinty — though her government has seemed a bit unclear on that, claiming the victories while denying the failures. Indeed, at a recent press conference, Ms. Wynne refused even to utter Mr. McGuinty’s name (interesting that she’d be willing to serve the balance of his term as premier without facing the voters, but not say his name).
But Ms. Wynne, however much she may pretend to have distanced herself from Mr. McGuinty’s mistakes, has clearly chosen to emulate them. Indeed, for a party hobbled by Mr. McGuinty’s decision to buy votes with money taken from Ontario taxpayers, Ms. Wynne is campaigning on a budget that sought to … buy votes with money taken from Ontario taxpayers. It’s the same stunt as Mr. McGuinty pulled with two gas plants, only much, much bigger.
The proof is in the budget the Liberals brought down late last week. It is, to put it mildly, not a credible document. The deficit is set to increase this year, next year and the year after that … and then suddenly balance in 2017, which just happens to be when the Liberals have promised to be back in the black. How convenient!
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