Frank Klees

Frankly Speaking


Article written by Frank Klees, MPP
As Published in the Auroran October 23, 2012

The Troubling Legacy of Dalton McGuinty

Why will Dalton McGuinty not be a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada ?

The answer to that question is buried deep in the layers of sanctimonious explanation about why he is resigning as Premier, and his even more preposterous justification for shutting down the legislature.

The truth about Dalton McGuinty's resignation.........

I have yet to meet anyone who believes that Dalton McGuinty's resignation has anything to do with an epiphany brought about by either the emotional experience of his daughter's wedding or as he claims, by the Liberal Party's gratuitous endorsement of his leadership at its annual general meeting two weeks ago.

Here's what I've observed from my vantage point sitting across from Dalton McGuinty in the legislature.

I watched as the Premier repeatedly refused to answer direct questions about his involvement in the decisions that lead to the mismanagement and waste of millions at Ornge. I saw him repeatedly deflect questions about his knowledge concerning the role of the Liberal Party in the cancellation of multibillion-dollar power plants - a politically motivated decision to save Liberal seats, that would ultimately cost taxpayers in excess of a billion dollars. As the evidence mounted to suggest that those decisions had, in fact, come from inside his office and the Liberal party, the man whose shrug had earned him the handle of 'theTeflon Premier' began to show increasing signs of stress. These  would be the same decisions for which his energy minister Chris Bentley would ultimately be found in contempt by the legislature.

Prorogation: The ultimate cover-up. Will the voters be fooled ?

It was one thing for Dalton McGuinty to announce that he would be resigning as Premier and that he would not be running again in the next election, but it's quite another thing to prorogue the legislature under the guise of wanting to resolve the issue of a public sector wage freeze without as he put it, " the heightened rancor" of the legislature.

Really ? Just how gullible does this exiting Premier think the citizens of Ontario have become under his leadership ?

What does it mean to prorogue the legislature ?

Prorogation is the end of a session of government. It is not just a recess or adjournment of the legislature. When applied responsibly, it happens without controversy. For example, a session of parliament can be prorogued with agreement that certain bills will survive prorogation, thus avoiding the senseless loss of months of the legislature's efforts. A recent example was in March 2010, when the first session of McGuinty's government was prorogued and four days later, another session began with a new Speech from the Throne.

Without such an agreement, the practical effect of prorogation is that all legislation, including government and private members bills and committee sessions die. Literally thousands of hours of work by Members of the legislature, civil servants, stakeholders and parliamentary committee witnesses get wiped out. That is how  Dalton McGuinty has chosen to bring his time as Premier to an end.

What is the real reason Dalton McGuinty has shuttered the legislature ?

As I stated above, one of the effects of prorogation is that all parliamentary committees are shut down. Not only was the legislature about to begin hearings into the contempt motion against the Minister of Energy relating to the power plant scandal, but the committee investigating Ornge would also have resumed calling witnesses. Not only has the Premier refused to answer direct questions about what he knew and when concerning both of these scandals, he twice refused to appear as a witness before the Ornge committee. He was also put on notice that he and key players on the Liberal campaign team would be called to testify at the contempt hearings related to the power plant scandal. Those appearances can not happen if the legislature is not in session. By shutting down the legislature, the Premier has orchestrated the ultimate cover-up.

Why don't the opposition parties just carry on without the Liberals ?

Both opposition parties agree that this is no time to shut down the work of the legislature and are calling on the government to reconvene the legislature immediately.

Unfortunately, under the rules of our parliamentary system, only the government has the authority to re-convene the legislature and it is clear that they have no intention of doing so.

Were we getting too close to the truth for the Premier's liking ? I think so.

In an earlier column I wrote about the disrespect this Premier and his government have shown towards the institution of parliament, the legislative process and the men and women who were elected to serve in their capacity as Members of Provincial Parliament. No one bears the brunt of that disrespect more than the citizens of Ontario.

That's why Dalton McGuinty will never again be a candidate for any elected position.

As always, I welcome your comments and advice. I can be reached through my website at www.frank-klees.on.ca or by calling me at 905 750 0019.