Sunday, January 27, 2013

Two days in Ontario politics.

The two days preceding this one saw some significant developments on the local political scene. Dealing with these in reverse order, let's start with Saturday night, when the governing Ontario Liberal Party selected Kathleen Wynne (seen above) to replace Dalton McGuinty as leader of the party and, by default, as the new Premier of Ontario. Wynne is the first woman to lead Canada's most populous province, and media reports have also noted that her selection made further political history because she is a lesbian; in fact, Wynne's sexual orientation was never much of an issue during a leadership campaign in which the Ontario Liberal Party's future direction and current political prospects received a lot more attention than the details of the various candidates' private lives.

Going forward, Wynne will have her work cut out for her as the leader of a minority government facing a divided, rancorous legislature. A new election is likely to come within the next few months, and recent polls place the governing Liberals in third place behind the opposition Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats; as a Torontonian regarded as a representative of her party's left wing, Wynne will likely face an uphill battle as she seeks to convince the moderate and conservative suburban and rural voters who will decide Ontario's next election to give another chance to a Liberal government that has been weakened by various scandals and politically-costly squabbles with core constituencies like organized labor. As I say, Wynne has her work cut out for her, and I'll be interested to see what happens next.

Let's step back one more day to Friday morning, when Toronto Mayor Rob Ford won the reversal of a November court decision that initially seemed likely to force him from office. As previously reported on this blog, the earlier ruling demanding Ford's departure from the mayor's office hinged on his participation in a February 2012 City Council vote on whether or not he should be required to return $3,150 in donations that he had raised from lobbyists to support a high school football charity that he had founded. In November, Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland found that Ford's involvement in the vote constituted a violation of the provincial Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and ruled that Ford should leave office within a few weeks.

Some of Ford's critics cheered Justice Hackland's decision, but many others regarded the ruling as overly draconian and wondered whether taxpayers should have to cover the seven-million-dollar cost of a potential byelection to choose a new mayor on account of a relatively minor infraction involving a few thousand dollars, none of which had gone to Ford personally. Ford's lawyers launched an appeal, and Friday's Divisional Court ruling reversed the November decision and ruled that Ford can remain in office. Describing himself as both humbled and vindicated, Ford now intends to run for a second term in the next mayoral election, scheduled for October 2014. I will still be in Toronto then, so - political junkie that I am - I look forward to watching what I'm sure will be an exciting race. AMDG.


At 2/02/2013 9:57 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

My congratulations on your understanding of the Canadian political scene, especially considering the relatively brief period you have been living in TO. Someday you should explain Quebec politics to me. ;)

At 2/02/2013 10:45 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...


It helps that I have been following Canadian politics for years, so I am not one of those clueless Americans who has no idea what goes on north of the border. I also like politics in general and enjoy reading about it and studying it, so it doesn't take me long to get up to speed when I move somewhere new.

As it happens, I could probably also offer a decent explanation of at least some aspects of Quebec politics, having studied the topic for a long time and written various academic papers on it. I do have stronger opinions about Ford and Wynne and wish I could provide more detailed analysis, but I do feel constrained to be circumspect in my comments because of my public profession as a religious.


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