Op-Ed: Why can't Dalton McGuinty apologize for wasting $585 million?

Posted May 10, 2013 by Andrew Moran
The word sorry is hardly ever used in federal, provincial/state or local politics. Instead, politicians like to plead ignorance or label their decisions as mistakes. The same can be applied to former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
This week, one of the worst premiers in Ontario history delivered testimony over the cancellation of the two gas plants prior to the last provincial election. The governing liberals have already confessed that it was done for political reasons and to save their seats in Mississauga and Oakville. This decision has cost Ontarian taxpayers a minimum of $585 million – other estimates say it would cost more than $700 million in the long run.
Like his fellow politicians, McGuinty acted smug during the testimony and never issued an apology. Of course, he claimed to have regrets and no knowledge of the enormous price tag prior to opting to cancel the two power plants. The grits initially estimated the cancellations would have cost $40 million for Oakville and $190 million for Mississauga, but the number ballooned all the way to the Auditor General’s official figure.
Rather than just expressing a word similar to sorry, it seemed like the former premier played the victim because he was being “criticized for keeping a promise.” Well, allow me to be the first to apologize, Mr. McGuinty, for hurting his feelings over flushing $585 million of our money down the toilet yet again. Permit me to ask: how was he elected three times with such a cavalier, condescending and arrogant attitude over handling such enormous sums of taxpayers’ money?
Although the Liberals like to lambast its critics because of Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives and Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats admittance that they would have cancelled them too, the difference is that the Liberals were and still are the governing party at Queen’s Park.
Despite McGuinty stepping down in October and Kathleen Wynne succeeding him earlier this year, if he ran for the Liberals again in 2015, he most likely would have won another minority or majority government. It seems Ontario voters are all knaves to either McGuinty’s supposed charms or incompetence.
Since McGuinty led the Liberals to victory about a decade ago, it appeared that Ontarians were rather abecedarian when it came to provincial politics. Why? Because the Grits blew more than $1 billion on eHealth, raised taxes, ran budget deficits, issued out bonuses to 98 percent of eligible civil servants with money we didn’t have and wasted around an estimated $700 million on Ornge.
Can anyone blame McGuinty, Wynne, Deb Matthews, Dwight Duncan and Chris Bentley? Governments like to waste money, but perhaps the waste saves the rest of us from even further insanity and ineptitude. As the great economist Milton Friedman put it, “I say thank God for government waste. If government is doing bad things, it's only the waste that prevents the harm from being greater.”
In the end, because of McGuinty’s Liberal Party, Ontario is even more impecunious, even more in debt and is now a have-not province. Thank you, Mr. McGuinty, for all the good that you didn’t do. But then again, does government ever do anything beneficial for its bosses?
Perhaps all of this criticism will lead to McGuinty heading into exile and uttering the famous Greta Garbo quote, “I want to be alone.”