, 06.11.2018 03:30 AM

Column: Kathleen put Kathleen first

Kathleen Wynne’s former cabinet colleague doesn’t mince words.

“Kathleen is all about Kathleen,” the former colleague says.  “That’s always her focus.”

One of her former fundraisers and advisors is similarly candid with this writer.  “I appreciate all the nice things you’ve been saying about me, but thought I should let you know I haven’t been involved with [Wynne] for months,” he says.  And he’s very happy to have nothing more to do with her, the former advisor says.

A former Liberal candidate, Jim Curran, is willing to let his name be used.  He is livid about Wynne’s ahistorical decision to concede defeat days before the vote, thereby consigning her candidates and caucus to political oblivion. Says Curran: “What Kathleen did to her candidates was pretty much the shittiest thing I’ve ever seen a leader do to her own, hardworking, selfless, dedicated candidates who have put their lives and families on hold for the party they believe in. It was absolutely selfish and totally disgusting.”

There are lots more stories like that, but suffice to say this: Kathleen Wynne lost.

She lost because her $70,000-a-month campaign Wizard ran the worst campaign in modern Canadian political history.  She lost because her war room was a joke – “the surrender room,” as someone said. She lost because she had no message to offer Ontario’s voters.  She lost because what messages she had – inter alia, “Sorry Not Sorry” – were juvenile and idiotic.  She lost because she thought she won in 2014 – when, in fact, Tim Hudak snatched defeat from the clichéd jaws of victory.

She lost because she gave up the political centre. She lost because she and her mercenary inner circle saw the Ontario Liberal Party as a vehicle for their personal ambitions – and now they have left it with massive debt, adrift, a shell.

But, mainly, Kathleen Wynne lost because of Kathleen Wynne.  She lost because something – Hubris? Self-delusion? Ego? – persuaded her to stick around longer than she should.  Something persuaded her that it was all about her.

Because, as her former senior cabinet colleague notes, to Kathleen, it is always all about Kathleen.

Now, there can be little debate that Kathleen Wynne was smart, she was driven.  No debate.  One does not become a Premier, generally, by being an idiot.  But, her intelligence notwithstanding, Wynne refused to see the writing on the wall.

It was there for all to see.  For two years leading up to the 2018 Ontario general election, Kathleen was the most unpopular Premier in Canada.  Angus Reid and other pollsters dryly reported on it at regular intervals: Wynne was deeply despised by Ontarians.  They wanted change.  They wanted her gone.

She didn’t seem to care.  Solipsism, or something, told her that she could communicate her way out of her dilemma.  She was, of course, the Premier who hustled to every Loblaws in Ontario to promote limited beer sales like it was the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize.  She could communicate anything, she told herself.

The polls told a different story.  A while ago, this writer and others commissioned a poll by a reputable national agency.  It showed that the Ontario Liberal brand was popular.  It showed that mostly McGuinty-era policies were popular.  It showed that, with former cabinet minister Sandra Pupatello at the helm, the party could win another majority.

But, under Wynne, the poll showed that the Ontario Liberal Party was heading straight for the rocks.

Last Thursday night, the Ontario Liberal Party – formerly one of the most successful political parties in the Western world – hit the rocks.  It was reduced to barely a half-dozen seats and no party status.

To the end, Kathleen Wynne made it all about her. “I have not lost the passion for continuing this work,” she said.

But  Ontario long ago lost any passion it had for her.

16 Comments

  1. Pedant says:

    That stunt she pulled with MADD was a whole new level of cynicism. Why did none of the media ask her whether or not she ever purchased alcohol at a dépanneur on trips to Quebec?

    Regarding her early concession, there is some evidence from Advanced Symbolics that it actually helped and contributed to the Liberals upping their seat total from a likely 2-4 up to 7. I also believe in the end she did a service to her party by taking the hit herself thereby allowing the party to restart fresh.

  2. James Smith says:

    I’ve only met Ms Wynne a handful of times & in the brief conversations she always struck me as genuine and engaging. The people I know who have worked for her are very loyal and think the world of her. But I tend to agree with your article. I said to many, some now unemployed, my fear going into this campaign; “it’s 2011 all over again”. To Pendant’s point, my experience election day was I was delivering voters to the polls who were voting for other parties. As these were Liberal supporters this change was due to the concession speech.

  3. Matt says:

    And now she thinks Ford should give the Liberals official party status anyway. She claimed McGuinty did for the Hampton NDP in 2003 when they only got 7 seats (party status was 9 back then)

    That claim isn’t accurate.

    McGuinty gave them a budget increase, but it wasn’t until about a year later when Horwath won a by-election bringing the NDP up to 8 that McGuinty dropped the party status threshold from 9 down to 8.

    • Pedant says:

      It should also be noted that Mike Harris dropped the threshold from 12 to 9 after the 1999 election in order to accommodate the NDP. Although in that case it made sense to lower it anyway since the Legislature had been downsized to bring it in line with the federal riding boundaries.

      • doconnor says:

        The total number of seats has gone up this time. By keeping it at 8 is arguably generous.

        The idea of the Green MPP joining the Liberal caucus is an interesting one that significantly benefits both parties.

        • James Smith says:

          This idea is a non-starter. This so-called “green” person has very different ideas from Liberals & is frankly a megalomaniac who has the same issues with veracity as the present POTUS. The Green Party is at best a vanity project, and is more truthful a Tory exercise in voter suppression that only useful idiots support.

          • Fred from BC says:

            “The Green Party is at best a vanity project, and is more truthfully a Tory exercise in voter suppression that only useful idiots support.”

            That’s a keeper. Can’t stand the Green party.

    • Jim Keegan says:

      This party deserves a lengthy stay in the penalty box. They should not be accorded official party status.

  4. Joe Brothers says:

    Ok, I’m putting my hand up with a stupid question – who is the Wizard?

  5. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    FFS, they hit the wall and two of ’em still won’t go on the record with their names???

    That’s guts for you…

  6. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    Harper to Mansbridge, December 17, 2014:

    You know look Peter, the way I look at it is this, I still, you know I still love the job, I enjoy the job, I tell people I’ve got the best job in the best country in the world. […]

  7. Pedro says:

    Wynne and her colleagues will beg to differ with you about their ego and ambitions. They were and are only doing their humble best to save the world they can, the one they have under their thumbs from the neanderthal, mouth-breathing, unintelligent and in most cases, vileful evil persons opposed to each and every good-hearted, generous, reasoned, rational and obviously correct policy they envision, support just in their rational and totally diverse and unbiased hearts just know are correct. Can’t you see how there is ABSO-FRIGGIN-LUTELY NO ego or self-interest in that?

  8. Bruce M says:

    On the party status thing, I’m conflicted. Fund them, after they were selling access to ministers for years and changed the advertising rules for their benefit? Never!
    Or agree, and hope keep the NDP and left Liberals separate and divided. Mwaa-ha-haaaa.
    Or don’t, and hope they collapse, driving blue Liberals (and francophones) into Tory arms and hopefully watering-down the socialist Left.
    Or agree, but fund the Greens, too, further dividing the vote but making the Tories look even more magnanimous.

  9. Fred from BC says:

    “Or don’t, and hope they collapse”

    Probably not. Too old a party with too much history behind them. Even when the federal conservatives were reduced to just two seats they still came back.

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