And now the end is here, McGuinty does it his way

The Lindsay Post - - COMMENT - — Peter Epp

There are no rules for for­mer On­tario pre­miers who choose to quit as MPP, but Dal­ton McGuinty’s res­ig­na­tion Wed­nes­day as Ot­tawa South’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive is un­usual, yet in keep­ing with his un­ortho­dox ap­proach to pub­lic ser­vice. As with Frank Si­na­tra, he did it his way.

McGuinty leaves Ot­tawa South af­ter 23 years as MPP, but his sud­den de­par­ture is per­haps his­toric. Few On­tario pre­miers have left the po­lit­i­cal stage as abruptly, with so many unan­swered ques­tions.

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Bill Davis re­tired as premier in Jan­uary 1985 and didn’t seek re-elec­tion as Bramp­ton MPP in the May elec­tion that fol­lowed.

Frank Miller lost the PCs’ hold on the gov­ern­ment, but hung in as MPP for two more years, choos­ing not to seek re-elec­tion in 1987.

His suc­ces­sor, Lib­eral David Peter­son, lost his gov­ern­ment and his own Lon­don-area rid­ing in Septem­ber 1990.

New Demo­crat Bob Rae won that elec­tion, but lost the next in 1995. He re­signed both his party’s lead­er­ship and as MPP for York South in early 1996, on the same day.

PC Mike Harris re­signed as premier and as Nipiss­ing MPP in early 2002.

His suc­ces­sor as party leader and premier was Ernie Eves, who couldn’t hold on to the gov­ern­ment in the Oc­to­ber 2003 vote. Eves re­signed as MPP in Jan­uary 2005, spark­ing a by­elec­tion.

What’s un­usual about McGuinty is that he promised when he re­signed as premier last fall that he would stay on as MPP un­til the next elec­tion.

There was con­tro­versy last fall, there is con­tro­versy now. McGuinty’s de­par­ture comes as op­po­si­tion par­ties de­mand that he ap­pear again be­fore a leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee ex­am­in­ing the gas plant can­cel­la­tions and the de­struc­tion of e-mails by his se­nior po­lit­i­cal staff.

McGuinty hasn’t ex­actly been hounded out of of­fice, but it sure seems that way.

And his de­par­ture leaves Premier Kath­leen Wynne in the un­com­fort­able po­si­tion of hav­ing to deal with three by­elec­tions. There are open­ings in Wind­sor and Lon­don with the de­par­ture of for­mer Lib­eral heavy­weights Dwight Duncan and Chris Bent­ley.

Had McGuinty hung on un­til the next elec­tion, as promised, his rid­ing’s fu­ture would at least be safe and one thing less for Wynne to worry about.

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