Kingston Whig Standard - Premier's jig is up, opposition MPP says

Published on October 16th, 2012 in the Kingston Whig Standard

MPP Randy Hillier has a pretty straightforward response to Premier Dalton McGuinty announcing his resignation on Monday night.

The member of provincial parliament for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington says that while the premier's been good at dancing around political issues, he couldn't sidestep his way out of the latest controversies facing the Liberal Party.

"I think to me it was very, very clear that the heat was coming and surrounding Dalton McGuinty to such an extent that he decided it was time to flee the kitchen, and leave others in it to burn," said Hillier, a member of the Progressive Conservatives. "These contempt motions and these scandals, of ORNGE (air ambulance) and the gas plants, were getting closer and closer to his doorstep, with his fingerprints on it, and he saw that he wasn't going to be able to dance his way out of that mess, as good a political dancer that he is."

McGuinty stepping away from the leadership could be seen as a beneficial move for the embattled Liberals, a party whose image has suffered through many controversial policy decisions and scandals.

But Hillier sees the move as one of pure self-preservation.

"He's saving his own skin. He saw that the 39 steps were in front of him and he ran for the hills," he said. "The committees and contempt motions and censures, all were breathing down his neck, and his only options were to continue to be in contempt of parliament, or to run away. And he knew his reputation would have been much worse if he continued under contempt motions."

Hillier also expressed his concern over the prorogation of the legislature in the wake of McGuinty's resignation, a decision that will arguably give the Liberals a chance to regroup and regain some ground in the public's opinion.

"This gives his party some breathing room for them to tread water and hope that people will be somewhat forgetful of their latest activities," said Hillier.

But he doesn't think Ontarians are going to forget the McGuinty legacy.

"We look at Ontario in 2012 as McGuinty is leaving the premiership, and we contrast it to 2003 when he took over. We have hundreds of thousands more people out of work in this province, we have hundreds of thousands more people on social assistance and dependency on the state, more and more people trying just barely to make ends meet with the necessities of life.

"I think that by any objective measure, McGuinty has left this province in worse shape than he got it."

He says the announcement to cancel a natural gas plant in Oakville and relocate the project to Lennox & Addington County is a prime example of political pandering, versus real attention to the concerns of taxpayers.

"Here he put the taxpayer on the hook for who knows how many hundreds of millions on the Oakville gas plant. He listens to the people in Oakville, where he was possibly going to lose a seat, but has absolute disrespect for the people's concerns and interests on Amherst Island, over wind energy. Dalton's history is littered with examples such as that."

The gas plant decision needs to be closely examined, says Hillier, who doesn't know how this change will affect the cancellation and move of the project, but says there is much more to be uncovered.

"There are a lot of unknowns at the present time. My expectation is that at the first opportunity, and even throughout this period of time, we'll continue to do as much investigation as possible and see to the extent that we can just how significant and large this gas plant issue is," he said.