Ontario residents, weary of the grimness of the Harper decade overwhelmingly threw off the Conservatives in last fall’s election. But what they may not have anticipated was the migration of many of the Queen’s Park brain trust to new jobs in Ottawa. After all, some of these people are the same ones who were presumably giving advice on Gas Plants, wind turbines, Orange, the Sudbury patronage scandal, e-health, the Airport Express and the sell-off of Hydro One. Ontario now has the most debt of any province or state in the world. From his personal advisors to the Chiefs of Staff of many of his ministries, Prime Minister Trudeau has stocked up on former McGuinty-Wynne staffers. It’s disappointing to think that political and policy talent… if that is the correct term… is spread so thinly. It is acknowledged that many of these staffers helped Trudeau sweep Ontario, but being a good political operative in the heat of a campaign, when so much relies on intuition and luck is far different than the skill set required to govern. We’ve had more than our share of incompetent governing here in Ontario and a lot of it has to do with inexperienced political staffers trying to dictate policy to departments. The public service in Ontario, once the envy of the world, has become hopelessly centralized and politicized. Dating back to the McGuinty era, there is a generalized lack of confidence in the ability of this government to get things right, to manage big files. The message to Mr. Trudeau should be that whatever debt he thought he owed Kathleen Wynne, ended when he backed her on the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan and carbon pricing. It will do him no good in the most vote rich province in Canada, to be too closely identified with what is a badly damaged brand. Ontarians did not vote to transfer the Wynne government to Ottawa, they thought they were getting something new.
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