Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, is not paranoid. Not exactly. She just knows that certain people are out to get her.
The media, she acknowledges, are not her friends. They are nice people, some of them. It's just that, as Wynne says, their organizations want to bring her down. She has a particular dislike for Adrian Morrow, who covers the Ontario legislature for this newspaper. "I'm never speaking to Adrian Morrow again," she mutters at one point. Her partner, Jane Rounthwaite, says, "He's a twerp."
These and other remarkably candid insights into Wynne and her government arrive in Premier: The Unscripted Kathleen Wynne (Saturday, CTV 7 p.m., on W5). It's a fabulously engrossing, fly-on-the-wall doc. And you might have heard about it already, or at least one version of it.
In May, TVOntario abandoned plans to air it after the film's director, Roxana Spicer, quit after concerns that Wynne's top advisers wanted to see the entire production before signing the standard and requisite release forms. (In a brief statement at the time, Spicer said, "I couldn't deliver a documentary that was consistent with TVO's standards of editorial integrity and independence.") It was reported but not confirmed that Wynne's people were deeply concerned about the production's focus on the Sudbury by-election scandal that erupted during the course of filming.
If that were the case, it was more pointless paranoia than pragmatism on the part of the Wynne government.
The origins of the doc are with producer Peter Raymont, who made a classic political documentary in 1978, The Art of the Possible, which went inside the government of then-premier Bill Davis. Raymont persuaded Wynne and her staff to participate in a similar project about her government. And that is what was unfolding, until the Sudbury issue emerged.
The Wynne we see is mostly laid-back and forthright. She watches TV and we see her chortling at an old I Love Lucy show, the one with the chocolate-factory scene. Rounthwaite is ubiquitous, often at Wynne's side or at her elbow, a significant adviser.
The idea was to film Wynne and her cabinet during the 100 days leading up to the 2015 Ontario budget and we get a lot of insider footage of meetings and discussions. Wynne emerges as accessible and pretty honest about herself and her aims. It's excellent backroom drama in the way that most political drama is really about muttered conversations and asides.
Then the Sudbury issue blew up and we watch as a discombobulated and defensive Wynne tries to grapple with it. The upshot of the narrative was that Pat Sorbara, Wynne's deputy chief of staff, and Gerry Lougheed, a Liberal organizer, were under police investigation after Andrew Olivier, a former Liberal candidate, alleged he was offered a job in return for stepping aside so the Liberals could run a former federal NDP MP.
Naturally, the filmmakers documented the tensions reverberating from it all. There is one revealing scene in which Wynne tells a staffer that she had to explain the debacle to her mother, who, it seems, wasn't persuaded by the explanation. We see Wynne and others cooking up what will be the spin on the issue. We hear Wynne in the legislature during Question Period, muttering to a colleague, "I feel like I am in a courtroom."
In this excellent, short cinéma-vérité chronicle, people in politics reveal themselves with striking frankness. We see inside power and, in the end, are left wondering about the utterly unnecessary paranoia.
Also airing this weekend
The biggest thing on television returns this weekend with The Walking Dead (Sunday, AMC, 9 p.m.) back for its sixth season. (To be divided, as usual, into two eight-episode batches.) When the fifth season ended, Rick, Carol, Glenn and the other ragtag survivors were living in "Alexandria Safe Zone," where leader Deanna, a former U.S. congresswoman, tried to establish civil order and good government in a barbaric postapocalyptic world.
Some members of our heroic group mellowed in the Safe Zone. But Rick went from wary, tortured survivor to cunning anti-establishment subversive. He used his position as de facto police officer to amass an arsenal of weapons, take over the community and, as he saw it, ensure everyone's safety. His speech about the necessity for action could be taken from any right-wing politician talking about terrorists and invading forces of undesirables. "You still don't get it, none of you do. … You wish things weren't what they are. … Things don't get better because you want them to. Starting right now, we have to live in the real world. We have to control who lives here. … Your way is going to destroy this place, get people killed. … If you don't fight, you die!"
So there – politics as usual on The Walking Dead.