Kathleen Wynne's victory, Murray Dobbins writes, offers hope -- not just to Ontario, but to the rest of Canada:
While the right's hardliners may be lighting their hair on fire, citizens on the other hand may actually get to see what governments used to be like. There is, of course, still a possibility that Wynne will renege on these pledges as Liberals have done historically. But just imagine if she does deliver with the most progressive budget in Canada in 20 years. It could have huge implications for politics at all levels.
For forty years the Right has pumped the message that government is essentially evil and incapable of doing good. But Wynne could change that mantra:
If Wynne wants to have a really extraordinary legacy she has a golden opportunity -- and a powerful personal mandate. Progressive politicians can pitch good policies until the cows come home but the impact of actually seeing them work could be enormous: an executed plan is worth a thousand pledges. Wynn's $15-billion mass transit plan is huge in terms of reducing Ontario's climate footprint. Providing retirees with greater income security is something almost every government knows is critically necessary. Her pledge to raise the pay of the lowest paid health- and child-care workers directly addresses the issue of inequality. The rest of the platform was pretty interesting, too.
It all comes down to whether or not she can deliver on her promises. If she does deliver, Dobbins writes, there are three potential long term consequences:
Most important is demonstrating to voters across the country that governments can do things that make their lives better -- voting can make a difference. When the punditry puzzle over how the Liberals could have won despite a litany of corruption charges and large deficits, consider this possibility: the tired mantra about deficits and debt (and the scary bond-raters) suddenly takes its rightful place in the political firmament when it has to compete with real public goods and higher taxes on the undeserving rich.
Secondly, if this does start a trend towards more rational and less ideological politics (like actually addressing the $160-billion infrastructure deficit across Canada) the NDP might once again find the courage to run campaigns and engage the public on social democratic principles. After all, if they are going to mimic the Liberals to get to the centre, better they mimic Wynne (who is moving the centre to the left). NDPers everywhere would thank her (notwithstanding the irony that it took a Liberal to push the fiscal boundary -- sort of like Nixon recognizing China).
Lastly, though there may not be time for this to play out, a government representing over a third of the country's population actually pursuing an activist agenda could make things very difficult for Stephen Harper's continued assault on democratic governance. The 905 area surrounding Toronto went solidly Liberal in this election and it is these voters that Harper must have to win even a minority in 2015. If they are happy with Wynne's performance, Harper could be in serious trouble.
Wynne represents the possibility of better government and a better country. There is a lot riding on her success or failure.