Monday, 16 February 2009

Post I wish I could write

Adam R. echoes many of my privately held opinions about Dalton McGuinty.

Two thoughts I want to expand on:

Based on some recent speeches, and private conversations, McGuinty seems to understand that recovery from the current recession is going to happen regardless of what he does. But he's expected - mandated, even, by joint federal-provincial initiatives - to spend copious amounts of "stimulus" money in next month's Ontario budget.

This is a big chunk of the Federal Budget that I have specific concerns about. Harper and Ignatieff have basically passed a budget that mandates Provinces go into deficit in order to receive their share of funding promises. It'll take a premier with stones of unimaginable magnitude to present a fiscally conservative budget in the coming year. By attaching the requirement that provinces provide 30% of the funding for municipal projects, HarpNatieff have set the stage for conflict between the provinces and the municipalities in their jurisdictions. If a province decides to "opt out" and decides deep deficits aren't worth the risk, all its municipalities get screwed. Why couldn't the feds just promise funding to municipalities without involving the provinces? Setting up the premiers to take part of the blame for deficit fall out or failure of the budget to stimulate the economy?

Anyway, I agree with this:

I must confess that I don't share the distaste of some colleagues and acquaintances here in Ontario for Family Day. It's a day off. In February, second only to January in the most-depressing-month-of-the-year sweepstakes. How is this not a good thing?

That being said, the holiday speaks rather neatly to Dalton McGuinty's management style in his first five years in office. It's the sort of low-risk, low-reward form of populism McGuinty has used to curry favour with Ontarians while competently but unambitiously going about the quiet management of the province's affairs.

Many of the Ontario governments initiatives slip under the radar and are under reported. Which I guess is true for any government, competence is boring and unexciting, and as such isn't worth talking about. Transit, waste management, investment in emerging technologies, these areas hold potential for us Ontarians. So far its thumbs up from me for McGuinty.


Ken Breadner said...

I've come around on McGuinty as he's matured into the role. If only he hadn't made about four hundred promises early on and broke most of them.
I do like his response to this mess. It DOES stand in direct contrast to Flaherty's, which is short-sighted and I'm willing to bet totally ineffective.

ADHR said...

I think you, and Radwanski, have left out how McGuinty has dealt with higher education. 2010 will be a very interesting year -- there's more CAs expiring in higher ed than I want to think about, and McGuinty has given universities every incentive they need not to bother trying to settle them. The looming labour disputes in the university sector are a consequence of his -- and previous governments' -- failure to address the increasing pressure on students to get degrees, and the decreasing ability of universities to educate them effectively.

I'd also dispute the point about transit. Maybe it's better in your region, but the TTC is still deeply underfunded. Toronto generally needs help, and I don't see McGuinty doing much about it.

Catelli said...

He's not perfect. But putting him on the bell curve of competent provincial premiers and he starts to look a lot better.

To be fair, the provincial Libs transit initiatives are only getting started now. Nothing much happened the first four years I grant.

Education is an area that needs another look. Also basic infrastructure, accreditation of foreign skilled workers, subsidized housing, home building standards, etc. etc. etc.

He's done more right than wrong as far as I can judge. He talks a good talk, and yeah, he does need to walk that talk yet in some of those areas as well.

ADHR said...

That's what worries me about him. I suspect that it's mostly talk, and very little walk. We'll see if he does anything on the issues you mentioned, particularly since he'll need to in order to get federal dollars as part of the stimulus package.

Catelli said...

On that part I agree with you. We'll have to see if any results materialize.