Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Term of Office:||October 23, 2003 - present|
|Date of Birth:||July 19, 1955|
|Place of Birth:||Ottawa, Ontario|
McGuinty is married to Terri McGuinty, an elementary school teacher. The couple have four children: Carleen, Dalton Jr., Liam and Connor.
The son of politician and professor Dalton McGuinty Sr. and full-time nurse Elizabeth McGuinty , McGuinty grew up with nine brothers and sisters. He earned a science degree from McMaster University and a law degree from the University of Ottawa before practicing law in Ottawa.
McGuinty is the Premier of Ontario, sworn in as the province's twenty-fourth premier on October 23, 2003. He is only Ontario's second Roman Catholic premier, the first professing that faith since the 19th century.
McGuinty is generally regarded as a moderate fiscal conservative. He has stated that his top objective is drawing more international investment to Ontario, and has targeted a balanced provincial budget by the 2007-08 year. Although his government raised personal taxes in its first budget, the budget also included a plan to eliminate capital taxes for corporations in order to encourage investment.
On social issues, McGuinty holds progressive views. He supports abortion rights, although he is personally pro-life. He openly endorsed equal marriage for homosexual couples during the election, and passed legislation changing the definition of marriage in early 2005.
McGuinty is a strong federalist, the Ottawa-born bilingual son of a francophone mother and an anglophone father. He has spoken passionately about Ontario's place at the centre of Confederation and the need to give Ontario the tools it needs to play that role. While most Premiers favour a weak central government, McGuinty sees a role for a strong central government in a nation as diverse as Canada.
In the provincial election of 1990, McGuinty was elected as an MPP for Ottawa South following the sudden the death of his father. He was the only rookie Liberal MPP elected in 1990, as the government of David Peterson was unexpectedly defeated by the NDP. In opposition, McGuinty served as critic for Energy, Environment and Colleges and Universities. He was re-elected in Ottawa South in the 1995 provincial election without much difficulty.
The New Opposition Leader
Kennedy, a former head of Toronto's Daily Bread food bank, was popular on the left-wing of the party, while McGuinty built his core support on its pro-business right-wing. At the leadership convention, McGuinty came to head an "anybody but Kennedy" movement on the final ballot as other contenders such as Dwight Duncan and Joe Cordiano dropped off. He holds the distinction of being the only Canadian party leader to win his party's leadership after finishing fourth on the first ballot.
The Tories played off McGuinty's low profile as opposition leader to define the Liberal as "not up to the job." A weak performance by McGuinty in the party leaders's debate, along with generally strong economic growth in the province, helped re-elect Mike Harris and the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in the provincial election of 1999. McGuinty was able to rally his party in the election's closing days, however, and drew 40% of the vote for the Liberals on election day, their second-best performance in fifty years. The Liberal Party also increased its seat total in the Legislature from 30 to 36. McGuinty himself faced a surprisingly difficult re-election in Ottawa South, but defeated his Progressive Conservative opponent by about 3,000 votes.
Building the Team
McGuinty's second term as opposition leader was more successful than his first. With the Liberals consolidated as the primary opposition to Harris's Progressive Conservatives, McGuinty was able to present his party as the "government in waiting". He hired a more skilled group of advisors and drafted former cabinet minister Greg Sorbara as party president. McGuinty also rebuilt the party's fundraising operation, launching the Ontario Liberal Fund. He personally rebuilt the party's platform to one that emphasized lowering class sizes, hiring more nurses, increasing environmental protections and "holding the line" on taxes in the buildup to the 2003 election. McGuinty also made a serious effort to improve his debating skills, and received coaching from Democratic Party trainers in the United States.
McGuinty's chances of forming government were improved by a number of controversies involving the governing PC Party, including the shooting death of native protester Dudley George at Ipperwash, the deaths of seven people from tainted water in Walkerton, and the decision to extend government funding to private schools. Harris resigned in the fall of 2001, following the then-Premier's high profile testimony at the Walkerton Inquiry and the PC government's defeat in a key by-election in Vaughan--King--Aurora .
Harris's successor, Ernie Eves, received a short boost in the polls from his attempts to move the PC Party to the centre. However, Eves was never able to gain control of the political agenda, and appeared indecisive and reactive on issues ranging from electricity restructuring to taxes.
Eves was also regarded as having made a major misstep in early 2003, when he introduced the province's budget in a private Magna car plant (operated by Belinda Stronach, a prominent PC supporter), rather than in the provincial legislature.
The 2003 North America blackout gave Eves increased exposure and rallied some support for his party. He called an election immediately after the blackout, and polling showed that the previous Liberal lead had narrowed to a tie in the first week. The rise in Tory support proved to be emphemeral, however. The Liberals took a commanding lead in the campaign's second week, and remained in that position for until election day.
Many voters regarded the Progressive Conservative government as unnecessarily confrontational and divisive, and some of the Liberal Party's strength was based in a promise to change the combative tone of government. The Progressive Conservatives ultimately played into this strategy by running a series of poorly-conceived negative advertisements against McGuinty throughout the campaign. This took a bizarre turn midway in the campaign when a low-ranking PC organizer referred to McGuinty as an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet on an official party press release.
McGuinty's was generally regarded as having performed well in the televized leaders debate, and maintained his party's high standing in the polls. On election day, he won a massive majority government with 72 of the Ontario Legislature's 103 seats. The PC Party fell to 24 seats, while the social-democratic Ontario New Democratic Party lost official party status in the legislature. (It would regain it a few months later in a by-election.)
Following the election, the McGuinty government asked former Provincial Auditor Erik Peters to examine the province's finances. Peters revealed that the out-going Conservative administration had left a hidden deficit of at least $5.6 billion. The Conservatives questioned Peters's methodology, and suggested that the McGuinty government was overstating the province's financial difficulties to break or delay some of its campaign spending promises. Most neutral observers, however, agreed that the Conservatives hid a deficit of at least two billion dollars during their final year in office.
The new government called the Legislature back in session in late 2003, and passed a series of bills relating to its election promises. The government brought in auto insurance reforms (including a price cap), rolled-back a series of corporate and personal tax cuts which had been scheduled for 2004, passed legislation which enshrined publicly-funded medicare into provincial law, hired more meat and water inspectors, opened up the provincially-owned electricity companies to Freedom of Information laws and enacted a ban on partisan government advertising.
The McGuinty government also benefited from a scandal involving the previous government's management of Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One, which broke in the winter of 2003-04. It was revealed that a number of key figures associated with Mike Harris's "Common Sense Revolution" had received lucrative, untendered multi-million dollar consulting contracts from these institutions. Among the figures named in the scandal were Tom Long, former Harris campaign chairman, Leslie Noble, former Harris campaign manager and Paul Rhodes, former Harris communications director.
On May 18, 2004, Provincial Finance Minister Greg Sorbara released the McGuinty government's first budget. The centrepiece was a controversial new Health Premium of $300 to $900, staggered according to income. This violated a key Liberal campaign pledge not to raise taxes, and gave the government an early reputation for breaking promises. The Liberals defended the premium by pointing to the previous government's hidden deficit, and McGuinty claimed he needed to break his campaign pledge on taxation to fulfill his promises on other fronts. Deserved or not, however, the government's early reputation for breaking promises has created a lasting public relations difficulty.
The Ontario Health Premium also became a major issue in the early days of the 2004 federal election, called a week after the Ontario budget. Most believe that the controversy seriously hampered Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin's bid for re-election.
Also controversial were the elimination of coverage for health services not covered by the Canada Health Act including eye examinations and physical therapy. Other elements included a four-year plan to tackle the deficit left behind by the Conservatives, free immunization for children, investments in education and investments to lower waiting times for cancer care, cardiac care, joint replacement and MRI and CT scans.
Soon after the federal election, McGuinty hosted a federal-provincial summit on health-care funding which resulted in a new agreement for a national health accord. This accord allowed the premiers and territorial leaders to draw more money from Ottawa for health services, and requires the federal government to take provincial concerns such as hospital waiting-lists into account. McGuinty's performance at the summit was generally applauded the Canadian media.
The McGuinty government brought forward a number of progressive regulatory initiatives in the fall of 2004. These included legislation allowing bring-your-own-wine in restaurants, banning junk food in public schools to promote healthier choices, outlawing smoking in public places and requiring students to stay in school until age 18. Following a series of high-profile maulings, the government also moved to ban pit bulls.
During early 2005, McGuinty called the Legislature back for a rare winter session to debate and pass several high-profile bills. The government legislated a Greenbelt around Toronto. The size of Prince Edward Island, the Greenbelt protects a broad swath of land from development and preserves forests and farmland. In response to court decisions, the McGuinty Liberals updated the definition of marriage to include homosexual couples.
McGuinty also launched a campaign to narrow the $23 billion gap between what Ontario contributes to the federal government and what is returned to Ontario in services. This came as a sharp turn after more than a year of cooperating with the federal government, but McGuinty pointed to the special deals worked out by the federal government with Newfoundland and Nova Scotia as compromising the nature of equalization. In particular, McGuinty noted that immigrants in Ontario receive $800 in support from the federal government, while those in Quebec receive $3800.
Buildup to 2007
In late 2004, John Tory was chosen to replace Ernie Eves as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. A former principal secretary to Bill Davis, Tory is widely regarded as more centrist than Mike Harris. His selection has provoked speculation that centrist voters who supported the Liberals in 2003 could switch to the Progressive Conservatives in the next election. As against which, some believe that Tory's moderate policy agenda and lack of personal charisma could prevent the PCs from presenting a clear alternative to McGuinty's Liberals in 2007.
Ipsos-Reid polling for January 2005 indicates that one in two voters believe the province is "on the right track" under the Liberal administration. Almost the same number approve of the job the government is doing. This firm's polling has also revealed that a majority of voters believe the Liberals were justified in breaking some of their campaign promises, and are willing to judge the McGuinty government on its performance in office.
More recently, Leger and Leger has found the Liberals with a commanding lead. Their March 2005 survey shows the Liberals at 44%, the PCs at 33% and the NDP at 19%.
|Premier of Ontario|
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details