Dalton McGuinty's Ontario Liberals have spent their summer dodging political controversies. The bizarre incident on Monday night that involved Michael Bryant, until recently a senior member of the Liberals' cabinet, should not be mistaken for another one.
Even if Mr. Bryant had not recently resigned as economic development minister and left the provincial government, apparently on poor terms with Mr. McGuinty, the fatal confrontation that occurred in downtown Toronto would remain very much a personal tragedy. One man - Darcy Allan Sheppard, a bicycle courier - is dead. Another's life has been shattered, his family left to contend with the fact that he has gone from a successful public figure to someone best known for allegedly causing another person's death. It is far too nightmarish to be the stuff of politics, and reflects only on the people directly involved. (It should also not be invoked in the ongoing debate about the degree to which city roads should be tailored to suit cyclists; however it began, this was anything but a common sequence of events.)
Mr. Bryant's public profile, of course, ensures that this story will be covered more closely than would otherwise be the case. His descent from being touted as a potential future premier to sitting in the back of a police car seems almost the stuff of fiction (perhaps a Tom Wolfe novel). But it is difficult to imagine that any political rivals - of Mr. Bryant, of his party, or of Toronto Mayor David Miller, who recently enlisted the former minister to head a city agency - will be tactless enough to seize upon it. It is wholly irrelevant to the by-election to replace him in his former riding of St. Paul's, and should not be cause for attention when the provincial legislature resumes this month.
Those who worked alongside Mr. Bryant at Queen's Park, no matter their political affiliation, are undoubtedly shocked by what has transpired. But it is for the justice system to determine his fate, and for his former colleagues to focus their attention on other matters.