As speculation mounts about a possible Ontario election this spring, the veteran strategist who was reportedly set to run the governing Liberals' campaign has bowed out.
Multiple sources say that Don Guy, who ran each of former premier Dalton McGuinty's campaigns, informed his party this week that he has decided not to do likewise for Kathleen Wynne.
The news comes as a surprise to some Liberals who even a few days ago were expressing relief that Mr. Guy, who achieved something of an iconic status in his party, was prepared to resume his old role despite the change in leadership.
Although Mr. Guy will continue to advise the Liberals, his decision will likely place more responsibility in the hands of Tom Allison, who ran Ms. Wynne's leadership campaign this past winter and will step into that job in a general election. Ms. Wynne's principal secretary, Andrew Bevan, is also expected to play a senior strategic role, as is Liberal backroom veteran David Herle.
Reached on Friday while in British Columbia, where he is working on Premier Christy Clark's uphill re-election battle, Mr. Guy cited family needs for his decision, as well as the possibility of an Ontario campaign beginning before he returns to the province.
An official for Ms. Wynne, meanwhile, played down any change in plans. "Tom Allison was and is the campaign manager and Don Guy was and is a part of the core campaign team," the official said.
Mr. Guy did not support Ms. Wynne or any other candidate in the Liberals' leadership contest, and seemed inclined at the time to scale back his involvement going forward. Ms. Wynne, however, reached out to him after she won the race, and he appeared to reconsider that choice.
The Liberals are in the midst of trying to convince the provincial New Democrats to support next week's budget, rather than join with the Progressive Conservatives in bringing down the government and forcing a spring election.