Controversial former premier Dalton McGuinty — the Liberals’ version of Harry Potter’s Lord Voldemort because his name is so seldom mentioned — has come up in the June 12 election campaign.
Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne on Tuesday was forced to concede it was under her predecessor’s stewardship between 2003 and 2013 that transit funding started to roll.
“Dalton McGuinty . . . was absolutely committed to building transit. I was his minister of transportation at the time we were getting this project going and I am very proud of the work that we have done,” Wynne said.
Her comments came at the construction site of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, a $5-billion project that will open in 2020.
Other than a passing reference in a CBC News Network interview Saturday with Jennifer Hall, Wynne has strived not to say the M-word.
After she asked Lt.-Gov. David Onley to dissolve the legislature on Friday, she was asked repeated about the shadow McGuinty cast over the campaign.
For a time it seemed as if the former premier, whose $1.1-billion cancellation of gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga before the 2011 election has dogged Wynne since she took over in February 2013, was like He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named from J.K. Rowlings’ popular books and films.
“I have actually mentioned his name,” the Liberal leader said defensively Tuesday.
Both Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath frequently tout the ex-premier, who is now a fellow at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and refer to the Liberals as “the McGuinty-Wynne government.”
That’s because they want to tar Wynne with McGuinty-era problems ranging from the gas-plants to the ORNGE air ambulance expenses scandal, both of which are now subject to Ontario Provincial Police investigations.
Another headache for the Liberals on Tuesday was Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 president Bob Kinnear, who is opposed to a 30-year private maintenance contract on the TTC’s Eglinton Crosstown line.
Kinnear arrived at Wynne’s event and was granted a five-minute audience with her on the Liberals’ campaign bus.
“I don’t think that we ambushed her. I think that we showed up as concerned citizens. This isn’t a union matter. This a matter for the citizens of Toronto. This is about the delivery of their services,” he said.
“She was receptive to some of the concerns that we pointed out, but there is a clear disagreement on moving forward.”
Afterward, it appeared as if the ATU officials departed the event on Eglinton Ave. W. in Mercedes-Benz and Lexus sedans.