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Feb 06, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

One era ends

Listowel Banner

Listowel Banner editorial

With Dalton McGuinty’s 10 years as premier of this province over, a new era has begun in Ontario politics. What’s not known is whether or not the new era will be any different than the old one.

Kathleen Wynne’s victory last Saturday as Liberal leader and premier is historic — she becomes the province’s first female premier and Canada’s first openly gay premier. But beyond that, how will she move forward and put McGuinty’s increasingly unpopular legacy behind her?

McGuinty was elected premier in 2003, winning back to back majorities before Ontarians “punished” him with a minority victory in 2011. That was largely due to increasing dissatisfaction in the rural ridings about McGuinty and his government.

The controversy and opposition over industrial wind turbines was a large factor in rural voters turning away from McGuinty, and that type of negative momentum away from the Liberal party is not something Wynne will be able to reverse easily or anytime soon.

As someone who was part of the McGuinty government, voters will no doubt hold Wynne culpable for such unpopular McGuinty controversies such as the Green Energy Act and wind turbines, the ORNGE air ambulance scandal, eHealth, health premiums and the canceled power plants in the GTA, to name a few.

To no surprise, Ontario’s Tories have wasted no time in rolling out the attack ads on Wynne, not even waiting for her to be officially sworn in as premier. Such is politics.

But perhaps Wynne can start to help Ontarians forget about what they didn’t like about McGuinty. She needs to, if she has any hope of winning the next election.

If her speech Saturday is any indication, she brings enthusiasm and energy to the job, and loads of experience. As a former school trustee and Minister of Education, maybe Wynne can start the healing process between the government and teachers. A former conflict mediation practitioner, Wynne will need to employ all her skills in repairing that relationship, but it’s important she does. She also needs to win back rural voters.

The McGuinty era is over. Now let’s see what the Wynne era brings. And how long it lasts.

- Special to the Banner

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