10.15.2012 08:33 PM

In tomorrow’s Sun: when Dalton calls

About a decade ago, when the federal Liberal Party was being destroyed by the ambitions of a few – and when I was a disillusioned former Jean Chretien aide – I got a call.

“If they don’t want you, we do,” said the Dalton McGuinty confidante on the other end of the line. “Come and help us and we’ll win.”

So I did. And we did – win, that is. In 2003, in 2007 and 2011.

In all that time, my take on the Ontario Liberal MPP was always the same: with this guy, what you see is what you get.

He loves his country, and he loves his province. He loves his family. He believes in public service. He’s a genuinely nice guy.

I never saw him lose his temper. I never saw him treat a staffer or a volunteer with anything other than respect. I never saw him act like a phony.

That’s why, in part, so many of McGuinty’s political adversaries paid tribute to him last night. They, too, considered McGuinty to be a genuinely nice guy.

So, do nice guys always finish last?

Not McGuinty. And, if – as is widely rumoured this morning – he seeks the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, he’ll be more than a contender. Three reasons.

One, he has government experience. The other expected candidates, as impressive as they are, just don’t. Government experience counts, particularly at times like these. Particularly against a cagey opponent like Stephen Harper.

Two, McGuinty has a winning record. He’s the longest-serving Premier. He’s a survivor. And, as noted, he has won three back-to-back victories – two majorities, and one very near majority. That’s not bad.

Three, McGuinty has built up the most successful Liberal machine in Canadian politics. All of that team – and, full disclosure, I had the privilege to run his war room in all three of his election campaigns – will follow him wherever he goes. With the help of the likes of Don Guy, Dave Gene, Laura Miller his brother Brendan, McGuinty has been the winningest Grit in Canadian politics.

Will he run for the top federal Grit job? Should he? The pundits and the pollsters will moot those questions endlessly, in coming days.

But know this: if Dalton McGuinty seeks the federal Liberal leadership, he’ll win it.

So, to curious Liberals across Canada, I recommend not making any commitments. I also advise sticking by your phones over the next while.

You never know who might call.


  1. sharonapple88 says:

    But know this: if Dalton McGuinty seeks the federal Liberal leadership, he’ll win it.

    McGuinty vs. Trudeau. That will really heat the race up. I’d pay money to see that fight.

  2. reformatory says:

    I suppose he would add value to the debate and the contest. I don’t think he would win though. He is a spent force, and he is not far enough removed from a tainted legacy. Bottom line, his support dropped and his back was up against the wall. He had nowhere to go. His Gov’t lacked ambition, and he survived by being lukewarm. He did not inspire anybody, and the people around him who supported him and organized for him went for the opportunistic ride.

    Don’t get me wrong, he is a stand up guy, and there are far worse who abused far more. He at least served with distinction. But under his watch, things got stale, he made several mistakes over the last year, and he made some very sketchy decisions recently.

    Let’s hope the party looks outside the caucus to elect a new leader, cause nobody on the inside inspires. The only name that comes up that could have been okay are Gerrard Kennedy, but he made his bed, and can’t really abandon that road for his past road. Too bad, life is all about timing, and GK timing right now would have been bang on.

  3. Dan says:

    That’s a bold statement. It’s admirable that you’re willing to stand behind your man so forcefully.

    I think a lot of Ontario is just sick of him, quite frankly. And a lot of that has nothing to do with ideology or policy or results.

    If he can overcome that, however… he wouldn’t be a bad choice. He’s done some pretty progressive stuff. The green belt. Funding health care and education. Some good environmental stuff. But looks like the Liberal intelligentsia told him he could stop Hudak by running to the right, and now he’s finding a lot of progressives pissed off.

    Plus he’s symbolic of the Liberal party’s corruption. eHealth is just another example of how much the “very smart fiscally responsible” Liberals love public-private partnerships, which end up as huge corruption scandals as public money is given away to corporate cronies.

    And now it looks like McGuinty scuttled millions of dollars to win an election, by aborting his power plant plans… His political career may be over.

  4. MCBellecourt says:

    My question is, would he cooperate with the NDP in the next federal election, and be able to convince Angry Tom to cooperate with him?

  5. Timmy Horton says:

    Didn’t you say that a certain former Premier of Ontario would be a disaster for the federal Liberals because the Conservative attack machine would rightly chew him up over his massive deficits, labour strife, and scandals while Premier?

  6. Michael S says:


    Gary Dewar in Washington.
    Gordon Campbell in London.
    Lawrence Cannon in Paris.
    Dalton McGuinty in….

  7. Mark Dewdney says:

    My initial knee-jerk was to say “well, you can forget Ontario” if he DOES win the federal job…but then again, it really was Toronto that put him in, not Ontario.
    Then again, also, there are those who would vote Liberal if Hitler ran against the ghost of PET.

    • Tim Sullivan says:

      “Then again, also, there are those who would vote Liberal if Hitler ran against the ghost of PET.”

      I’ve read this a few times and I still cannot figure out what it means.

      • Torgo says:

        I think it’s just meant to get Hitler and Trudeau in the same sentence.

        Also, I’m curious – no one outside of Toronto voted Liberal in the last few provincial elections? Wow, that is a divided province…

  8. Patrick says:

    Had Dalton gotten out without the growing plant issue and had won the by election for the majority then I would have said he leads the Feds.
    But with the stickiness of the issue and perhaps a growing vibe for the ‘next generation” he may have missed the moment.
    With much of the Liberal politic in flux provincially and federally this may be a terrific opportunity for an across the board renewal. Lets face it nothing new is going to come out of a Conservative Party so it has to come from somewhere and it’s going to need a new face and an optimistic one.
    Which brings it back to Justin. Now, if he flames out early……..

  9. Frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib... says:

    Ahhh…..at last…… a challenger(hopefully) to the Dauphin……..the party will be the better for it…..win or lose…..

  10. Al in Cranbrook says:

    View from out here…

    I know little of Ontario provincial politics, but here’s what I’ve heard a lot of:

    Ontario is now a “Have Not” province, for the first time since pretty much forever.

    Ontario is drowning in provincial deficits and debt.

    Scandals, latest one being something to do with shutting down power plants in Liberal ridings at a cost of $700 mil or more.

    A massive “green” energy program costing kabillions that even Ontario’s auditor general had to crap all over.

    Gordon Campbell got BC off the equalization dole/welfare inflicted upon us by the NDP, turned the province’s economy around big time, and did it all while slashing taxes. If I recall correctly, prior to the 2008 crash he even balanced BC’s budgets. Did I mention winning three majorities? But he screwed up handling of the HST…albeit bringing it in was smart policy…and for that he can’t get arrested, and has to quit basically in disgrace.

    They (meaning the rest of Canada) say BC politics is pretty screwy stuff.

    Ummm…compared to where? Ontario?????? Really??????


  11. Commander Shepard says:

    David Frum had a great tweet about Dalton:

    Dalton McGuinty will be remembered less for what he did than for what he failed to do. He won 3 elections. He solved no problems.

    • Michael says:

      Perhaps Frum has spent too much time in Washington DC to know what problems Premier McGuinty has solved. 😉

    • Tim Sullivan says:

      He’s right insofar as not solving the Harris debt and deficit. We’re still living with that, which in person and kind, was transmitted to the federal level. However, unlike the Harris government, McGuinty didn’t kill any Indians, women on welfare in Sudbury or water-drinkers in Wakerton, or anywhere else.

  12. Bob says:

    Warren Warren Warren. You are a smart man which makes me wonder why you would support Dalton. That would be a dumb move. If Dalton win the Federal Leadership race there goes another election where I don’t vote Liberal. Come on after Martin, Dion and Iggy we can’t do better then Dalton. Wow if that is the case then the Liberal Party of Canada is truly is bad shape

  13. william smith says:

    Big problem here for the libs. The media is reporting the first three potential candidates : Michael Bryant, Chris Bentley, Gerard Kennedy and throw in George Smitherman and do we see a trend? Yep all burden with baggage and ego, hardly the stuff that gets votes especially when the media shreaks from the right.

    Come on libs you can do better than that. Besides the Province is going to go ballistic about the proroguing, at least we now what it means courtesy PMSH – a cowardly move designed to buy time the next political trick – it won’t wash. Look forward to a Spring election where the libs get dusted and the voters are faced with two other very bad options.

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      Gerard Kennedy

      What baggage and ego?

      Opens first food bank in Canada.
      Executive Director of Daily Bread Food Bank for a decade
      Loses to Dalton in 5th ballot in 1996.
      Loyal Liberal, is against coup when Dalton fails to win first election (trust me, there were plenty of folks egging him on).
      Minister of Education that helped set in motion for Dalton to become Education Premier.
      If had not trailed Dion by 2 ballots after the 1st vote in Montreal (856 vs 854), would have probably become federal Liberal leader.

      William Smith, you must be already backing someone else.

      • william smith says:

        I am not backing any Lib but will admit that GK is still a liability and not the light that you obviously think he is otherwise he, or his many admirers, would have paid off his debts many years ago.

    • Michael says:

      William you are totally correct, the public will go ballistic about the poroguing, just like they did with Harper.

      • Brammer says:

        Ballistic indeed, and for all the same reasons people disliked Harper when he did it.

        The idea of Harper lite as Fed Lib leader is not appealing.

    • bluegreenblogger says:

      I doubt that anybody will even raise an eyebrow about proroguing. This is what prorogation is intended for.

  14. Peter says:

    Can Dalton speak French? If so, how well?

    If not, doesn’t this pretty much eliminate him from the race?

  15. AmandaM says:

    I’m not sure that Terri would be on board. And that to me is the biggest reason why he won’t.

  16. Rod Morley says:

    Doesn’t anyone remember him as the Premier during the suspension of human rights during the G20 summit? It’s bad enough we have Harper, I never want two people in power Federally who were involved with the G20.

  17. Graham says:

    Mr. Kinsella:

    With due respect, don’t you think you are letting your personal feelings for Mr. McGuinty cloud your opinion somewhat?

    Did you not once say that Bob Rae had too much baggage from his time as Ontario Premier to ever be seriously considered as a candidate for Federal Liberal leader?

    Well, Mr. McGuinty has TRUCKLOADS more baggage than Mr. Rae.

  18. Graham says:

    I saw a clip of you on the news this morning saying that (paraphrasing) the opposition are barking up the wrong tree on the power plant issue, that they have picked the wrong issue to go to war over, because the plant cancellations were an issue in the last election and McGuinty was returned to power.

    Do you honestly believe that?

    The plant in Mississauga was cancelled DURING the campaign, and no doubt, voters need to take responsibility for not paying attention.

    But at the time, we had NO IDEA:

    a) what the cancellations were actually going to cost, and

    b) that the cancellation was a decision made by LIBERAL PARTY (to borrow a phrase) “backroom boys”, and NOT by the cabinet.

    I think you’re wrong here Mr. Kinsella.

    This issue isn’t going away.

    Just today we learned that McGuinty KNEW that all the documents we not released as far back as September 29th, 2012, and STILL stood up in the Ontario legislature and said all documents had been given to the opposition.

    This situation stinks Mr. Kinsella. The proroguation is a blatant attempt by McGuinty to stop the committee from getting to the bottom of this.

    My guess: It’s going to hit very close to the Premier’s office, if not McGuinty himself.

    PS – Where is you indignation towards the McGuinty proroguation? You were extremely critical of Harper when he prorogued.

    • Warren says:

      Yes I do.

      1. The people ratified the decision, locally and provincially. And they were told there would be a cost.

      2. The decision was made by the people with the authority of the people with authority. Not the likes of me!

      • Clive says:

        I think Warren missed the word “honestly” in the original question, or else he wouldn’t be able to make statement number 2 – Chris Bentley already made it clear that that’s an untruth.

      • Graham says:

        With respect Warren, we STILL don’t know what the true cost of the cancellations is.

        And if it seemed I was pointing the finger at you being involved in the decision to cancel the Mississauga plant during the election, that was NOT my intention.

    • Tim Sullivan says:

      How is the prorogation akin to what Harper did? Harper shut down parliament just before a non-confidence vote, only a week or 2 into the session, after an election just a few weeks before that. It will go down in history as the shortest working session.

      Any pitchforks and torches the oppostion want to bring out when the Legislature returns will still be there. There is no stiffling procedure or debate in the provincial prorogation, unlike the Harper “Avoid Defeat” prorogation.

      And BTW, prorogation is not in itself a bad thing. It is used all the time in Westminster-style parliaments to clear the decks and to start a fresh session. It is just circumspect when it is used a week or 2 into a session to avoid a vote of confidence. Undemocratic one could say, under those circumstances.

  19. Andy says:

    Oh, Warren…delusions r u…probably from being too on the inside. McGuinty’s record on the energy file…the Samsung debacle…the gas plants debacle…and his proposed wage freezes on the working classes, among other stupid moves… are things that will follow him to Ottawa. But what will kill him in a race is Proroguing on the day of his announcement. Copying anything Stephen Harper does in a bid to avoid the eyes of the people on a daily basis is anti-democratic, and seen only as self-serving political strategy, rather than leadership. And it will prove to be his undoing with the Feds…

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