Self-serving "leadership"

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I’m an Upper Canadian. I don’t want to be. I’ve chosen to live in the Maritimes, and plan to remain here for the foreseeable future. I realize I will likely never attain Maritimer status, but maybe someday I can gain Not-Upper Canadian status. Maybe?

Dalton McGuinty is partially responsible for my disillusionment with Ontario. So it is with some glee that I read any column taking a piece out of the former premier:

Living in Japan was an interesting experience, a mix of positives and negatives. But by the time our departure loomed, I was ready to go. Twenty-four months in that country was about six months too many, so I found myself practically giddy at the prospect of returning to Canada, even if it meant more years in Ontario (when we left for Japan, the plan was to move east when we returned, but a terrific educational opportunity changed that).

I was also excited about acquiring a new puppy when we got back, a Staffordshire bull terrier. As that fall back in Ontario unfolded and I waited to receive my puppy, the Liberal government rumbled about banning pit bulls. The next year, public consultations were held - window dressing – but despite an overwhelming burden of experts arguing against breed bans, it was politically expedient to move ahead, so the dogs were banned. I got to keep Pixie – she was grandfathered in – but that wasn’t really the point.

This isn’t a post about pit bulls or breed bans, and I’m sure some of you have opinions on the issue that differ from mine. For me, though, it was an awakening. I realize I had probably built up Canada’s virtues to an unreasonable level during my time away. But I felt utterly deflated.

Debate had failed. Research had failed. Expert opinion had failed. A just cause, in my view, could lose because politicians wanted it to.

Michael Bryant, the Attorney-General who spearheaded the push to ban pit bulls – his biggest media focus at a time when outlaw biker gangs saw their greatest growth in Ontario, and maybe any jurisdiction in the world, ever – later acknowledged a substance abuse problem…which only came to light after a confrontation he had with a cyclist ended with the cyclist being killed by Bryant’s car. Bryant was found innocent of wrongdoing, but only in that case: he remains guilty, in my mind, for his abuse of dog owners, their pets, and the rule of law, which should be rational and proof-based.

Bryant was McGuinty’s man, though. The premier could have ended the witch hunt any time. It was clear that McGuinty was more interested in approval polls than principles.

Caledonia was the final proof of that, if any more proof was needed. The residents of that community were left to lawlessness. I’m actually somewhat sympathetic to the cause of aboriginal justice, but that sympathy ends at the point where force is used to intimidate or harm private citizens.

Failure to maintain law and order strikes at the very core of the social contract. If police won’t act, private citizens should be free to. Yet there is no question any vigilante group formed to protect the property owners of Caledonia would have quickly been suppressed by police.

A vigilante group would not have been the preferred outcome, of course. Police being freed to do their jobs was the sane course of action. But McGuinty, ever worried about polls and position, knew confrontation could escalate. He remembered Ipperwash and Oka and decided he was better losing Caledonia’s vote than risking his own government.

I haven’t even touched on the financial fiascos that occurred under his watch, the biggest of which isn’t this $600-million loss but the massive increase in Ontario’s debt under his reign:

Dalton was a terrible premier, and his sins are sins shared by so many of our political leaders: being cavalier with tax dollars, acting on unjustified moral certitude, valuing survival over principle and having the hubris to believe your hold on power is vital to the public interest.

I'll never live in Ontario again. Even my enthusiasm for Canada has been diminished. And I have become very suspicious of big government.

The instinct to use big government to shape society is, at its core, anti-democratic. It’s not principally about voting and giving voice to the disenfranchised. It’s mostly about harnessing the biggest guns to get what you want.

Modern liberalism has hijacked principled, classical liberalism to push a big government agenda that, at its base, believes legislators know what to do – mostly what to do with your money – better than you do.

It’s just too bad all the mainstream parties in this country seem to feel the same way.

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