Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government has really stumbled in the past few months. The current
Second terms are always tougher. It becomes more difficult to stick to core issues and there is a tendency to drift off to other areas in response to stakeholder lobbying, unforeseen crises and complacency. The economic downturn was a huge challenge for all government but in
Now not every policy initiative had been a disaster this year. The Liberals have managed to get through the HST changes and successfully battled the pharmacies. Yet things are not right. So what has happened to this McGuinty government? Most likely the chaos is the result of changes in the Premier’s office. The political staff behind the scene have incredible clout within government. They control the political agenda, communicating policy changes stakeholder management. McGuinty’s Chief of Staff in 2003 was Don Guy who also ran his 2003 election campaign. He was succeeded by Peter Wilkinson who ran the 2007 election campaign. Both were effective in keeping the government on track and on message. In April Peter Wilkinson was succeeded by Chris Morley who has risen through the ranks from McGuinty’s press secretary and other communication positions in the government. But things haven’t going so well under Morley’s watch which means there will be more changes coming to the Premier’s staff or further policy disasters.
The other factor is the changing faces in Cabinet. McGuinty began his first mandate with a much stronger inner core of Ministers - Greg Sorbara, Gerard Kennedy, George Smitherman, Dwight Duncan, Michael Bryant and Gerry Phillips. Most have moved on and not necessarily replaced with equivalent talent.
However, with a provincial election less than 15 months away, McGuinty doesn’t have a lot of time to fix the problem.