He calls them his “stories.” In his stump speeches and his visits to factories, hospitals and businesses, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty loves to spin his stories.
They are comfy, folksy tales of his adventures growing up in a family of 10 children, marrying Terri, his high-school sweetheart, having four children in five years – and then not only finding himself in politics but premier of Ontario.
The campaign is like an episode from The Waltons. There is not much news, there have been no big unwieldy rallies this week. As Stephen Harper did in the federal election, Mr. McGuinty limits himself to one media availability a day. But his handlers allow more than five questions – and they are nice about it.
So far this week, there have been no unscripted events where regular people come into contact with Mr. McGuinty. It is a classic campaign of a party in power.
Everyone, however, leaves feeling good. The Liberal Leader is always upbeat – and, with a few exceptions this week when he criticized former Tory premier Mike Harris for closing hospitals, he is always high road.
In a visit to the Mount Sinai Hospital Thursday morning, Mr. McGuinty visited the maternity ward, admired and held a newborn baby, and then joked he wanted to take the infant with him – all this before making an announcement about an expansion to the hospital.
Standing in front of assembled doctors and nurses at Mount Sinai, Mr. McGuinty spoke about how “magical” babies are. He noted that he comes from a family of 10. He joked that his family had a “unique” way of celebrating Christmas.
“My friends would get a puppy and I’d get a new brother,” he said.
The crowd ate it up. This is what he does – he liberally peppers his stories throughout his remarks and announcements.
Here is a sampling:
At the Kellogg factory in Belleville, Wednesday
“Just to tell you one little story. The stories are always good. I grew up in a big family, you all know this. And we were entitled to get up in the morning, leave our beds, go down to the breakfast table and we had access to pretty well an unlimited supply of puffed wheat. … No cereal was ever designed to more quickly absorb milk and sink to the bottom of your bowl than puffed wheat. So we weren’t big fans of puffed wheat. But we also had the ‘gold’ and it was hidden under my mother’s bed. It was Corn Flakes. And when she woke up, she would produce the ‘gold’ and then we knew we had hit the big time. We had access to Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. So, gentlemen: Just so you know, you have a distinct and proud history with the McGuinty household.”
At the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Monday
“In the late 70s my mom started to work here as a nurse. She loved her experience here. She really enjoyed the profession of nursing. On one particular occasion, my dad threw our roto-tiller – it’s a garden tiller – in the back of the truck and threw a couple of kids in the back of the truck as well, and we came over here and we tilled some of the lawn here at CHEO. … Today, you would be arrested for something like that. … We planted a vegetable garden because my mom thought it would be a good idea for patients to see a garden grow, perhaps … even get into the garden to pick some food.”
Two more weeks before Ontarians go to the polls; two more weeks of stories.