Friday, October 23, 2009


It doesn’t seem that long ago that the then-NDP government of Bob Rae set a record Ontario deficit of more than $12 billion – meaning the difference between how much money the province collected compared to how much it spent in 1992 was bigger than in any year in the province’s history. Well, this week it was announced that the Ontario deficit will exceed forecasts and come in at $24.7 billion. That’s a lot of money. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan rightly referred to some “difficult decisions” that loom ahead for the province, as they have in recent months for many U.S. state governments, including California. Premier Dalton McGuinty was asked by media whether he’s considering a return to the so-called “Rae Days,” the then-premier’s attempt to avoid massive and widespread civil service layoffs by asking public sector staff to take unpaid time off (even if it violated existing union contracts). It was a great example of an instance where any speculation at all by McGuinty would have led to enormous headlines. Nor was it a time to rule anything ‘in’ or ‘out.’ The trick for the Premier was to stay in the “here and now” and only discuss the facts and the process as he knows it right now. “I don't know,” he told reporters. “We’ve all got our own particular approaches obviously. I’ll let people judge, but what I would say is that… the next several months will be very important as we come up to our own particular approach to this.” There are definitely communications reasons why McGuinty has been a successful political leader in the media capital of Canada, and that was a good example.

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