Shortly before convening his cabinet for one last meeting, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said he will “never have a job as good” as the one he is set to leave after his successor is chosen this weekend.
The outgoing premier seemed relaxed and reflective Wednesday as he climbed a flight of stairs and walked into his Queen’s Park office for one of the last times – “getting younger, feeling lighter,” he joked.
“When you think about what we’ve got going for us here in Ontario and in Canada – and I’ve just returned from a trip in China – it is nothing short of extraordinary,” he said in a rare impromptu scrum. “Our quality of life, our standard of living, the great schools, the great health care, the economic opportunities and the brilliance of our future. They really put us in good standing in comparison to the rest of the world. So you can’t help but feel proud just to be an Ontarian and a Canadian.”
Mr. McGuinty rattled off some of his government’s accomplishments, including putting money into the school system, cutting health care waiting times and shutting down coal-fired power plants in favour wind energy.
Even the province’s current spat with public school teachers is not bothering him, he said. They have been working-to-rule since the fall and, earlier this month, Mr. McGuinty’s government imposed new contracts on them.
“No, no. That’s part of it, that’s part of it, that’s all part of it,” he said. “It speaks to the vitality and vigour of our democracy. People in other parts of the world are giving up their lives to make public complaints about the government of the day. Again, I’m proud of the fact that we live in such a strong economy and such a strong democracy.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. McGuinty the final announcement of his nine years as premier at a Cambridge, Ont. auto plant, before heading back to Toronto for the meeting.
Ontario Liberals are meeting over the weekend to elect a new party leader. They are scheduled to pay tribute to Mr. McGuinty Friday night. And the man of the hour suggested he would be savouring these final days.
“It’s been an honour more than anything else. It’s been a real honour and a joy and a privilege to serve Ontarians,” he said. “I’ll never have a job as good as this and I’m going to squeeze as much out of it as I can, to the very last drop.”