There’s trouble in the headlines for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
With her Liberals bumping along a solid third among voters, 20 points behind the little-known Patrick Brown’s Tories, Wynne threw her Hail Mary pass last week after suddenly concluding that power rates were too high. She announced a plan to slash them 17 per cent by the simple act of adding billions of dollars in extra interest – up to $1.4 billion a year – to the bill to be paid by future generations, on top of a debt that has spiraled to $300 billion via previous Liberal spending.
Rather than the hoped for hosannas, however, Wynne awoke Saturday to news that disgruntled colleagues may be plotting against her. The Toronto Star, the newspaper of choice for generations of Liberal faithful, suggested that if the power ploy doesn’t work, Wynne could find herself facing a rebellion.
Robert Benzie, the Star’s veteran Queen’s Park watcher, reported that “there are whispers at Queen’s Park about who might replace Premier Kathleen Wynne as Liberal leader” if her gambit fails to reverse the deep antipathy towards her and her government. One “grim-faced top Grit” told him: “Look, we can’t let the premier take the party down with her.”
This is serious stuff, coming from a newspaper that lives to promote eternal Liberal rule. No one should underestimate Liberal skills at backroom plotting. This is the party that ousted a prime minister after he had delivered them three successive majorities, because they thought his finance minister had a better chance of securing a fourth. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals follow a well-established practice of ignoring local preferences while parachuting in preferred candidates. Wynne’s Liberals have been just as ruthless in backroom manoeuvring, resulting in bribery charges under the Elections Act against two high-ranking party members over a 2015 Sudbury byelection.