Let’s face it: If any other party won the 2011 election, we’d still be in this mess;on the hook for $1.5 billion to move them. The only difference is the other two parties would’ve had an easier time distancing themselves from it because they’d be able to blame the old regime. Kathleen Wynne doesn’t have that luxury; she served as minister under Dalton McGuinty, and a co-campaign chair during the 2011 campaign. Her signature is on some of those documents dealing with the cancelled plants in question, and at some point she’ll have answer for it.
The latest developments could be a crippling blow to her government. Dalton McGuinty’s former chief-of-staff is facing breach-of-trust charges in relation to deleted emails regarding the gas plants scandal. It’s alleged Livingston hired a staffer’s boyfriend to wipe 24 hard drives in the Premier’s office clean of information dealing with the scandal during the leadership transition between McGuinty and Wynne. On the surface at least it looks like Wynne could have had something to do with this; an appearance the opposition is quick to exploit with Tim Hudak coming out right out directly implicating Wynne with very little proof.
But there’s the equal likelihood she knew nothing. As Premier you’re pretty insulated during transitional periods, and Wynne has never struck me as a micromanager. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt for now on this section of it; that she didn’t know or order emails to be deleted. However as long as she governs with McGuinty’s mandate she’ll look guilty. And it will get easier for Tim Hudak to make those accusations stick because people remember the bad stuff. The only way out now is an election and a mandate of her own.
And if I were her I would call it myself. At the moment the Liberals are ahead in the polls and she could win; this hasn’t had time really to affect those numbers. Wynne has been making election-style announcements for a while now, there’s a platform ready and the only thing missing is the budget. She would catch the other two parties flat-footed with this too giving her the competitive advantage of surprise. There is still something about Hudak that isn’t clicking with people, and I doubt he did himself any favours coming out so aggressively yesterday(I might have focused more on the government-wide corruption leading people to make their own conclusions). Andrea Horwath has made a mistake by not saying anything yesterday about this; she could be made to look weak, and have questionable judgement.
As always with an election there exists a risk of losing too. People might be willing to hold their nose and vote for Hudak just to have a change in government. Even a win could be a loss for Kathleen Wynne; if she ends up with anything less than a majority government she’ll be out as leader. Calling an election herself is a huge risk, balanced out with all the scandal and accusations it might be the only way out of this one. At the very least it would clear the air.