Why would a long time Progressive Conservative like me wish our newly minted Liberal Premier with a decisive majority government “good luck”? Well, because I am an Ontarian first and we all really need her to succeed. And that’s before I tell you that I believe she’s the ‘real deal’.
Kathleen Wynne and I are not personal friends but we sat opposite each other at the Ontario Legislature for about seven years. The PC caucus, of which I was a member, has not been in government since 2003, so I have only ever known Kathleen as a member of both Government and Cabinet and, more lately, as Premier. At the beginning, I saw her as very brash, agitated, and staccato. In the other direction, she appeared to see my dark, heavyset visage and deep voice as angry or threatening.
Then, one evening, my wife and I attended a huge event organized by and for Canadians of Iranian (Persian) origin. We found ourselves being ushered into a VIP reception area and deposited by our hosts within about three feet of Kathleen Wynne, then the province’s Education Minister. She didn’t exactly look thrilled to see me so I broke the ice by saying “hello Kathleen…here’s the softer side of Shurman, my wife Carole”. Both ladies smiled and Carole excused herself for a few moments leaving me standing alone with Kathleen. I turned to her, saw her back go up, and said “I’ve been wanting to tell you this for a long time…from where I sit, I observe every member of the McGuinty Cabinet in action, and there’s no one more diligent or competent than you – you’re the best he’s got”. I don’t think she saw it coming and I saw her relax and soften immediately. We chatted for a few moments, my wife returned, and that was all. But we communicated and got along after that.
Bottom line is I’ve respected Kathleen Wynne for a very long time. We do not share our politics but I can say, with sincerity, that I believe her to be honest, applied, extremely intelligent, and truly desirous of a new and better Ontario. Well, now she has the means to deliver on that objective…her own majority government. So, while I remain a strong fiscal conservative, the Ontarian in me wishes the Wynne Government good luck in achieving the growth and stability we all desperately want. As Finance Minister Charles Sousa again delivers the budget unveiled last May (and which triggered the election) it's time to be positive. The budget will now be debated and it will pass. I wish the Finance Minister the success he seeks, as well. I, myself, am in discussions and contact with Americans from both coasts seeking to invest in Ontario...they think it's a pretty good bet. Elements of this budget are indeed controversial…the Ontario Pension Plan would be the most significant example of that and there will be much discussion on it. However, the idea of infrastructure investments, criticized by some as an attempt to spend us out of a financial downturn, is precisely the route taken by the late Jim Flaherty and the Harper Government when things went south in 2008/09. It buys many essentials that we require (roads, bridges, transit) and it puts people to work on many levels. The Wynne Government is showing courage in proceeding, despite the threat of a credit downgrade by the various rating agencies…they must quickly demonstrate a definitive economic uptick for Ontario -- and they know it.
So yes, if I were still an MPP and the Opposition Finance Critic, it would be my job to tear the budget apart. As I write this, I am watching Finance Critic Vic Fedeli do just that. Indeed, Opposition exists to “oppose”. But I am now just an educated private citizen expressing my opinion which is founded on my own experiences and observations. That opinion is that all Ontarians must now get behind a government that will (for four years anyway) be cutting the path it hopes will lead us to that elusive prosperity and to a new day for our province. I can be PC and still support that.