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If you're a staffer at Queen's Park, this is around the time you start counting the days until the end of the spring legislative sitting. That's especially true if you work for the governing Liberals, considering the scramble you've had since Dalton McGuinty kicked off a leadership campaign by announcing his retirement last October.
The exception might be if you're the sort of aide who travels with Kathleen Wynne. Because in that case, a rookie Premier already earning a reputation for keeping a frenetic pace isn't going to give you much of a break.
A big part of the reason Ms. Wynne's strategists were eager to avoid a spring election is that they wanted to have the summer to introduce her to more Ontarians. So now, having managed to get their budget passed – something that was far from a sure thing when Ms. Wynne replaced Mr. McGuinty this past winter – they plan to take full advantage.
The plan is to have Ms. Wynne spend about five weeks on the road in the next couple of months, which is more time than a premier would usually spend traveling during the summer. A chunk of that will see her in Windsor and London, where there will be by-elections to replace former ministers Dwight Duncan and Chris Bentley. But according to an official in the Premier's office, the plan is to hit every region in the province, and "every location" Ms. Wynne hasn't hit during some fairly extensive touring so far.
Considering that she has a tendency to cram five or six public events onto her itinerary on weekdays, and to throw in a few more over the weekend, that means Ontarians are going to be seeing an awful lot of Ms. Wynne. And there are a couple of good reasons for that.
One is that, so far, the more they see of her the more they seem to like her. Ms. Wynne took over a tired government that seemed to be in a death spiral, and the provincial Liberal brand is still in some degree of trouble. But polls show Ms. Wynne's personal numbers soaring, and pulling up her party's. Even members of the other two provincial parties are apt to concede that, if nothing else, she's got charm.
The other is that this may be her last chance to make the most of her surprisingly lengthy honeymoon, because things aren't going to get any easier for her come fall.
While the Liberals were able to craft a politically palatable budget this year – throwing a few bones to New Democrats and left-of-centre Liberals and still besting or maintaining targets for deficit reduction – everyone around the provincial capital knows that next year's is going to be much tougher. The leeway from restraint measures (mostly tough labour contracts introduced or imposed) under Mr. McGuinty will be gone; this is where more structural changes will be needed to get back to balance by 2017-18, as promised.
Ms. Wynne also has a shrinking window in which she can continue to speak about her aspirations for her province, without making the tough decisions that go with them. That applies, in particular, to raising new revenues to address traffic congestion in the Greater Toronto Area, which to this point she has mostly only hinted at.
There is little indication she will go out on limbs on such matters over the summer. More so, she is expected to tout measures introduced in this year's budget – a youth jobs fund or homecare investment or auto insurance reform, notwithstanding that in some measure those were all concessions to the NDP – while setting the table for what's next.
There is some history of relatively minor scandals taking on lives of their own when most people turn away from Queen's Park, the "eco fees" mess of a few years ago being a good example. So it is entirely possible that at some point during her travels, Ms. Wynne will find herself putting out fires.
But heading in, the summer months represent her reward for making it to this point. Whether exhausted Liberals trying to keep pace with her will see it the same way is a different matter.
Adam Radwanski is a columnist covering Ontario politics.