Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday October 23, 2001
Liberal Leadership Hopeful
As several Conservative cabinet ministers prepare to square off in the coming race to succeed Ontario Premier Mike Harris, another more subtle positioning is also under way.
Opposition Liberals are also fine-tuning their strategy, adapting it to a political landscape that’s now suddenly devoid of the familiar opponent they once called “Chainsaw Mike.”
There’s no guarantee that the substantial lead Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals currently enjoy in the polls will be there come election time, which is likely still two years away, experts say.
A cautious, moderate approach in the coming months would serve the Liberals well, agreed Henry Jacek, a professor of political science at McMaster University in Hamilton.
“People do not like confrontation now — they want a softer, kinder, gentler government that will pull people together,” Jacek said. That desire has only grown since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, he added.
The new attitude of voters could give McGuinty, long seen as less slick and savvy than his Conservative counterparts, a distinct advantage, Jacek said.
“Suddenly, the so-called liabilities of McGuinty — his soft questions — now are much more what the Ontario public wants. They want a soothing leader.” (Hamilton Spectator)