Sunday, January 27, 2013

Whither Wynne?

Ontario's Liberals have a new leader. They cannot call her "Premier Dad." But, even though she can leave the epithet behind, she will not have an easy time. As Thomas Walkom writes in The Toronto Star:

Regardless of who leads it, this is a party — and a government — in deep, deep trouble.

The Liberals are at war with the province’s teachers. If Wynne sticks to the position she supported as a minister in Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet — a position that demands serious spending cuts in order to balance the province’s books — that war will be difficult to end.

More important, this is a government that, in crucial areas, has demonstrated terminal incompetence.

Wynne will have to carry a lot of baggage; and she has a lot of fences to mend. History proves that she faces a Hurculean task:

In Ontario, managerial competence matters. Once a government is deemed incapable of running the store, it is doomed — no matter how charming the leader. Former New Democratic Premier Bob Rae could testify to that

Indeed, governments anywhere can reach a point of no return.

Kim Campbell found that out when she took over the federal Conservatives from Brian Mulroney in 1993.

Rita Johnston suffered the same fate in 1991 after being elected to succeed disgraced British Columbia premier Bill Vander Zalm as head of the governing Social Credit Party.

John Turner took over the federal Liberals from Pierre Trudeau in 1984 — only to go down to defeat in the general election a few months later.

After 15 years of Trudeau, the voters were simply sick of Liberals.

In 2002, Ernie Eves inherited the leadership of the Ontario Conservatives from Mike Harris. Then he went on to lose the next election, a casualty, in part, of his predecessor’s take-no-prisoners approach to government.

Bookmakers would give Wynne long odds. Only time will tell if she can win -- starting, as she does, from the back of the pack.

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