Unlike Stephen Harper, (who Dalton seems to be copying every other day lately, with nary a peep of protest from his Liberal followers) Dalton started out his reign of error as head of government with a majority of seats. From 2003 to 2011, it was all Dalton, all the time.
And for most of that time period, Dalton and his Liberal friends kept themselves busy scaring everyone with the prospect of a Conservative majority in Ottawa. No one had ever seen something like a majority government headed by Stephen Harper before. So it was easy to scare people with the doomsday scenario of religious right wing fundamentalists running wild through the halls of Parliament. A CPC majority would result in nothing less than the collapse of Canada. The horror. And after all, you couldn't be sure that it wouldn't happen.
So, Harper had to spend 5 years governing, and not just governing, but governing through a recession, in order to convince people that he wasn't out to destroy the country. When Harper told people that he represented stability in April 2011, enough people had gotten used to him that "Stephen Harper, scary unknown" didn't really work as well anymore. That, and the fact that the 2011 election quickly devolved into a choice between Harper and the NDP.
But you see, Dalton has already had a majority government. Ontarians know what a Dalton McGuinty majority government looks like, and it looks like eHealth, the HST fiasco, the Green Energy Act, the G20, secret tax increases, the beginnings of ORNGE, and a complete disregard for the concerns of anyone who isn't part of Dalton's inner circle (which hasn't abated at all with the loss of his majority).
On the other hand, a Dalton McGuinty majority government would exhibit a complete disregard for anyone who isn't part of the inner circle, and that would mean we could all just go back to sleep again. Nobody wants to be responsible for holding Dalton's feet to the fire when doing so makes it look like you want to "take Ontario backward".
So here's the deal. If the upcoming byelection results in a win for Dalton, and a de facto Liberal majority, that means that voters knowingly and deliberately returned us to the state that we were in before Dalton had his wings clipped in October. They can't say "We didn't know" or "Dalton tricked us".
They had 8 years of Dalton with a majority. Long enough to get real well acquainted with what that looks like. And if they take us back there, then they have lost their right to complain. They are officially part of the problem.
I haven't forgotten how, months ago, Alberta voters rejected the Wild Rose alternative. And looking ahead to September, I can absolutely envision Jean Charest walking away with another majority government. In the former case, we had a truly Principled Conservative alternative, and in the latter case we have the biggest mass protest this country has seen in decades backing the PQ. But in the end, the result was, and will be the same; a future under a Wild Rose government, or a PQ government, was/will be just too scary and different from whatever they had already.
But here in Ontario, we've only had a few months of minority government. The possibility of a change in government still remains here, though it is unlikely. And anything other than a Liberal win in K-W will not result in radical change, but instead, things staying the way they are now. Either that, or we go back to where we were in October.
So it's not even a choice between what we have now and something radically different. It's a choice between what is, and what was. Dalton on or off the leash.
And if the voters choose Dalton off the leash, then that means that any possibility of a change in government is unacceptable to the voters. That they want governments to have unlimited access to power, and all the lamentation about democracy is just for show.
Now, remember when I made the comparison between Dalton and Harper? It took Harper 5 years and the threat of an NDP takeover of the country for him to get a majority. If Dalton gets his majority back, then it will be less than one year for people to decide, on their own, that Dalton with a majority was better than Dalton without. And that would mean not only do voters want stability above all else, but they prefer Liberal stability. If it's a Liberal government, then we're not prepared to wait 5 years to give them a majority. Got it?
And if that is the case, then three things are conclusively proven.
The first is that, given half a chance, voters will give Liberals majorities just because.
The second is that whatever Conservatives do to win and keep government is absolutely justified, because these people were and are never going to give us a fair shake anyway, no matter who our leader is or what our policies and principles are.
And the third is that any complaint made about what Conservatives do, by a Liberal or by anyone else, is completely without merit because- much like Dalton criticizing Harper, then turning around and doing the same things as Harper does- they have a problem with the Conservative who's behaving that way, not the behaviour itself.
It's not pretty. But I can't draw any other conclusion.
Oh, and by the way....eventually, a conservative government will be elected again in Ontario.
Wouldn't it be better if that government had a reason give to the voters of the benefit of the doubt?