Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s office established a high-level initiative codenamed Project Vapour to manage the fallout from the government’s decision to pull the plug on a multibillion-dollar power plant, documents show.
The day after the documents were released, Mr. McGuinty informed his closest advisers, including his former chief of staff Chris Morley, that he would step down after nine years in office. On Monday, he announced the news to his caucus and the public – and also asked the Lieutenant-Governor to prorogue the legislature. All business has ground to a halt, circumventing a legislative committee that was to probe allegations that Mr. McGuinty and his senior ministers had not disclosed all the documents associated with the project or revealed the true cost of cancelling it.
You can't make stuff like this up. No one would believe you. As Dief was fond of remarking: "Where's the outrage?" Even the opposition has become mechanical in its denunciations. Nine years of making yourself hoarse pointing out the incredible mendacity and cynicism of this government and it ceases to have meaning. Is anyone out there? Are you seeing this stuff?
This fascinating little tidbit makes the "ticking time bomb" theory the most reasonable explanation for the Dalt's sudden departure. He is pulling a Chretien and letting the scandal go off when his successor comes to power. The successor will then shrug his or her shoulders and say they knew nothing about it. Really. It was the last fella. I was just minding my business at some other department. Have no idea what the last Premier was up to. Is it getting hot in here?
The electorate is unlikely to buy any dance of the innocents coming from the Grits. The new Liberal leader will play Paul Martin and pretend to be very outraged and promise to get to the bottom of it. This is assuming that the electorate cares. There was outrage over Adscam. The Ontario electorate these days seems so apathetic I'm not sure any of this really matters. If Dalton McGuinty spends his last months in office shooting Canada geese from the front lawn of Queen's Park, I doubt anyone outside the Toronto Sun's editorial board would care.
Better than even odds the Toronto Star would praise the Dalt for his careful stewardship of Ontario's wildlife.
It has been a running theory of this blog, almost since its inception, that Dalton McGuinty's magic formula for political teflon is three parts nebbishness and one part brazenness. Most people simply cannot believe that anyone who looks that nerdy, while delivering such bland lines in so wooden a fashion, could be such a complete sleezeball. Appearances matter in politics. By contrast Mike Harris looked and sounded like he had ordered men to their deaths and still slept soundly. To his admirers he was Presidential, to his many critics a right-wing mafia don with a penchant for golf. In either case Mike the Knife was a tough hombre.
The Dalt is actually a pretty tough and very shrewd political operator. Perhaps even more so than Harris. He just looks like the awkward friend everyone had in High School. Any success that comes his way is slightly shocking. He married the cheerleader? He was elected leader of what? The electorate is going to take a passing look at the Oakville and Mississauga power plants, shrug their shoulders in disbelief, and keep walking. Nah. Dalton McGuinty doesn't look evil enough to that. Besides all politicians are liars.
This might be the McGuinty Legacy. A cynicism so profoundly and so blandly expressed that the electorate has simply given up hope of anything better. The Dalt has lowered the political standards so low there might no recovery in the foreseeable future. From here on in politicians will do away with the pretense of "positioning" and just make stuff up. Unicorns and fairies will allow us to balance the budget! Just checking to see if anyone is still awake. Yeah didn't think so.
This is how Ontario ends. Not with a bang but with Dalton McGuinty's stiff smirk.