September 25, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 16  

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Martin and McGuinty both looking to be king

Ad Nauseam
Anton Vidgen

News Editor

After his humiliating performance in Ontario's last election, Liberal Party leader Dalton McGuinty has worked to hone his craft and barring disaster, finally seems ready to slink into his role as premier of Canada's largest province.

Sound familiar?

McGuinty's federal counterpart, Prime Minister-in-waiting Paul Martin, is coasting to 24 Sussex Dr., leaving his demeaning exit from the Chrştien cabinet in the dust.

Though McGuinty's ascension is perhaps not as secure as Martin's, pollsters, pundits and power-brokers seem to be clucking in agreement that the wooden Pinocchio voters knew back in 1999 has finally been transformed into a veritable boy-politician, though this time you can't tell if he's lying.

Incidentally, Martin has finally put his Parliament Hill debutante days behind him, ready to enter high political society as an (arguably) fully-formed prima ballerina. Let the dance begin.

But aside from their Grit background or their stroll to the finishing line, both men share a political philosophy that's bested even the most cunning veteran party strategists on either side of the spectrum.

McGuinty and Martin have heaved their lumbering Liberal Parties to the fiscal right, pulling the rug out from right under the deficit-busting, tax-reducing, right-of-centre parties that, up until very recently, commanded the conservative voter's attention with little effort. The right-leaning swing voter is suddenly a hot commodity but the Conservatives have failed to realize this.

Both federal and provincial Liberal leaders believe in a de-facto one party state which will ensure them and their friends a job. Accomplishing this takes little more than delaying opinion on controversial issues, pandering to temporary voter sentiment by voicing support for populist causes and being sure not to say anything that offends anyone. Essentially, you are not given the opportunity to disagree, hence your tacit support.

Both Martin and McGuinty have staged themselves as candidates for change and as competent leaders. Martin relies on personal strengths instead of overly criticizing his opponents. McGuinty, as the recipient of many personal attacks, has strived to negate their validity by not addressing them or at least doing so in a condescending manner.

M&M's strategy to reduce political alternatives is working. But such a move only benefits the organized parties " not the people who will vote them in. The long term result is that voters will be politically desensitized and cleansed of opinion.

If you're looking for change, look elsewhere.



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