When Leading Means Leaving

Some decisions in politics are easy. It is not hard to oppose Trump and every vile thing he stands for.

In general though political decisions are not often so clear cut. In 2017 – sooner rather than later – Premier Kathleen Wynne will have such a decision to make about her future, and in fact the future of the province. 

New polling indicates there has been little change in her popularity, or lack there of to be specific. Her approval ratings sit barely into double digits, and show no sign of improving. The decision she faces is fairly obvious to anyone with a basic understanding of politics, or math for that matter.

I’m known to hold unpopular opinions at times – Friends is better than Seinfeld – so I have no issues with sharing another one. Premier Wynne has by and large done an excellent job. She put forth a bold platform and won an unlikely majority, at a time when many counted her party out. She has gone about implementing many much needed changes in pressing social issues, education, transit, and the environment.

Unfortunately, a significant portion of the electorate does not care.

I believe a great deal of the negative -at times visceral – reactions to Premier Wynne stem in no small part from the fact that she is both a women and openly gay. Women in politics from across partisan divides, are subject to abuse and levels of contempt rarely experienced by their male counterparts.  Such vitriol is occasionally even promoted by major media outlets

However, her dismal approval ratings cannot be laid solely on the denizens of commentville or the local chapter of the “I hate lefties” club. It runs deeper than that.

People in Ontario have seen life get progressively more expensive while their wages have stayed the same or vanished all together. Hydro costs in particular are often cited as what’s driving up the cost of living, and driving down the Premier’s popularity. The Globe and Mail broke down hydro costs recently, showing how little of your hydro bill is actually Wynne’s fault. Perception in politics being what it is, I doubt many people are open to that argument though.

In 2015 we saw Canadians embrace a progressive platform and elect a majority Liberal government. Clearly there is an audience for the progressive values Wynne has championed. The Liberal party polls better than the Premier, suggesting another win is not out of the question. Particularly if mistrust of Patrick Brown grows, and if his party continues to pack their guns with feet seeking bullets.

Premier Wynne should seriously consider what’s at risk in 2018. With a radical conservative agenda taking hold in America, a slightly softer version here could seem palatable to the people of Ontario. Leaving Patrick Brown and his party to unwind much of the progress the Liberals have made.

Hopefully, Premier Wynne has at least considered the option to step aside. She has worked hard to put forth programs meant to benefit all of the people of Ontario, and for that work to continue someone else may need to take the lead.

I suspect Premier Wynne already knows that because after all, that’s essentially how she got the job in the first place.


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