Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Loathing of Kathleen Wynne

Recently the Toronto Star published a piece questioning whether or not critics were motivated by Kathleen Wynne's gender, or that it was tied to her unpopularity. The initial premise is, of course, ridiculous to my mind. Ontarians have plenty of reasons to oppose, or not support the Ontario Liberals and Premier Kathleen Wynne (OLP - Don Valley West).

The primary cause, from my perspective, is time. In democracies parties in power tend to only last eight to twelve years in office. Ontario's Liberals have been elected since 2003. They were nearly removed from office in 2011, but the execution was staid when Wynne gave a fresh face for a tired party.

All these years have allowed bad policies, scandals and entitlement to pile on to the government. With over fourteen years in office no one's hands are clean anymore. Long memories for tax increases, a lukewarm economy, and wasted money have eroded support. Anxieties about the high provincial debt and deficit are justified.

I have lived in Ontario for nearly all of my life, and came to political awareness mostly during the Dalton McGuinty years, Premier Wynne's predecessor. McGuinty was never truly popular from my recollections, but no alternative enticed Ontarians enough to make a change. McGuinty was premier when social media was present, and while he had critiques it hardly felt as toxic as the conversation around Wynne. Memes and images take aim at the Premier herself. My barbershop, as an example, posted pictures comparing her to Orville Redenbacher to explain why prices were going up. Critics seem to revel in mocking the Premier's appearance on top of her policies.

I have never voted for the Ontario Liberal Party. I am not a supporter, even if I agree with some of their policies. That said, Premier Wynne seems subject to a particularly harsh brand of criticism. This may simply be a product of politics of the 2010s. Things tend to have a more jagged, raw edge. Politics can be personal and mean. Like the case with Rachel Notley in Alberta, I cannot help but think the tenor of their detractors is nor partially drive by their gender.

Our first female, gay premier is positively hated by some in this province. That's not unusual, especially given the age of her government and the popularity of some of its policies. As we draw closer to the election this is only likely to intensify. I would hope that critics of the Wynne Liberals will stick to the substance and that the appearance, gender and sexuality of the Premier is not a factor in the debate and coming vote. 

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