The Worst Moments From The Liberal Gas Plant Scandal

By Josh Lieblein

At long last the estimated $1.1 billion saga of the Liberal Gas Plant Scandal is at an end. Justice Timothy Lipson ruled that Dalton McGuinty’s former chief of staff, David Livingston, was guilty of attempted mischief and illegal use of a computer. Liberal staffer Laura Miller was charged but found not guilty.

(We can argue over semantics all day, but the fact of the matter is the Liberals blew hundreds of millions of dollars of public money to save their own skins.)

You’re going to find quite a few timelines of this scandal that omit some of the most brutal details. Here, for your lack of enjoyment, are some of the worst moments:

October 24, 2011: The Liberals Continue Building The Power Plant After Promising to Move it

You knew this was going to be a under-covered scandal right from the get go when it took weeks for people to notice that just because the Liberals said they were going to move the plant, they hadn’t actually stopped construction. Read the coverage and marvel in the slightly bemused tone of the journalism, as if the writer knows something is up but won’t/can’t say so outright.

“You mean that the Liberals said something that wasn’t true? No way!”

October 23 2012: Whoops! We Found MORE Power Plant Documents After We Said We Released Them All… Honest Mistake!

So, the Legislature had been assured repeatedly that all power plant documents had been released only to be told that a poorly executed computer search had excluded 20,000 documents which were later made available. Predictably, the Opposition freaked out and accused the Liberals of lying, but nobody was ever blamed or fired or punished because incompetence is business as usual in Ontario politics.

June 25, 2013: McGuinty Blames The Whole Thing On A Conspiracy

In a gross display of Liberal false outrage, Dalton McGunity — who had already resigned — went before the Justice Committee and accused the Opposition of… you guessed it… using “political tactics.” (Because the idea of politicians being political is a bad thing, and because McGuinty wasn’t being political at all, no sir.) Hilariously, the ex-Premier also made this prediction: “The ultimate result and outcome of this investigation, I’m very confident what it’s going to be: no grounds for laying any changes of any kind.”

July 30, 2013: The Liberals Might Have Pressured Speaker Dave Levac To Not Find Chris Bentley In Contempt

For the longest time, Energy Minister Chris Bentley was looked at as next in line to succeed the leadership of the Ontario Liberals. Then the gas plant mess landed in his lap and a finding of contempt was brought against Mr. Bentley by Tim Hudak’s PC Party of Ontario, forcing him into retirement before he could be possibly found guilty. Emails showed that top Liberal strategists — including Laura Miller, who was narrowly found not guilty on Friday — were hoping that Levac would “change his mind” and that “we need better here.” The finding of contempt stood, and the Liberals looked like a bunch of hacks. Naturally the whole matter was dropped without consequence.

November 7 2017: The Liberals Try For Two Times Lucky

Shortly after the case against two Liberals in the Sudbury byelection scandal crumbled, the Liberals, deciding that the public was sick of all this scandal-mongering anyway,  thought they could get a two-for-one deal and let things go back to the way they were. No such luck.  They did, however, manage to get the biggest charge — breach of trust — dropped. Why didn’t they ask to have the charges dropped before the Sudbury scandal fell apart? Your guess is as good as mine.

 

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Mini-Cabinet Shuffle Strong Evidence That This Election Is Kathleen Wynne’s Last

By Josh Lieblein

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m probably the least confident person in Ontario that Patrick Brown will be our next Premier.

Though I do hold out hope for a PC government (honest!), I can’t overlook Kathleen Wynne’s ability to keep resurrecting herself or ignore how Ontarians seem wedded to the notion that she’s the the devil they know.

So when I say that win, lose, or draw, Kathleen Wynne is a spent political force who will step down after June’s go-round, I think my bearishness on Brown gives that particular prediction a little extra weight.

Lost in the speculation over today’s Liberal cabinet shuffle — which is, to be sure, slapping a new coat of red paint on a very old car — is once Wynne moves relatively new MPPs into ministerial roles and retiring/more seasoned MPPs out, that just puts more focus on how long she’s been in politics.

Let’s look at the numbers.

Of the 56 Liberals currently at Queen’s Park, Wynne is one of 11 who were elected in 2003 and, as of this writing, have not called it quits. (The other 10 are Vic Dhillon, Shafiq Qaadri, Harinder Takhar, Bob Delaney, Lou Rinaldi, Kevin Flynn, Jeff Leal, Lorenzo Berardinetti, Bill Mauro, and David Zimmer).

Of those 11, she and 4 others (Rinaldi, Berardinetti, Leal, and Zimmer) appear as confirmed candidates on the Ontario Liberal Party website.  Only 5 Liberals have been at QP longer than her, and of those 5 only one — Ted McMeekin — is a confirmed candidate for June’s election. Both McMeekin and Jim Bradley — who’s served since 1977 — were dropped from cabinet in this shuffle, leaving only Bob Chiarelli and Michael Gravelle on the inside. The fifth member of this long-serving group is Michael Colle, who hasn’t been close to cabinet since he was tarred with the Cricket Club Scandal.

I don’t mean to disrespect my elders, but the sands of time have been pouring against Kathleen Wynne and what’s left of her Class of 2003 for quite a while now, and there are fewer and fewer Liberals who make her look like a fresh face by comparison.

It takes a long, long time for Liberals to reach the level of duplicity that qualifies them to lead the party — just ask Steven Del Duca or Yasir Naqvi — but even by this abominably slow standard there is small chance Wynne will still have a credible claim to lead in 2022 even if she ekes out a win here.

And as it happens, this isn’t the first time the Ontario Liberals have cleared the decks of political toxic waste. Once one-time perennial contender Chris Bentley opened his big mouth about the gas plant scandal, he and a bunch of Dalton McGuinty holdovers such as Dwight Duncan, John Milloy, Greg Sorbara and McGuinty himself had to get flushed to clear the smell away. Of course this time we don’t have a cabinet minister going rogue, so the process is a bit more orderly and subtle.

One way or another, we will be in a no Wynne scenario before the 43rd general election.

So, What Ever Happened to Those (Possibly Ex-)Liberal MPPs Accused of Sexual Harassment Years Ago?

By Josh Lieblein

Oh, I’m sorry — did you forget how Wynne revealed that at least two Liberal MPPs were accused of sexual harassment, long before #MeToo started trending? Because she totally did. I’ll wait a minute while you get back up to speed.

All done? Great.

Isn’t it strange how people keep needing to be reminded of Liberals who’ve behaved in this way towards women? I’ll bet you already forgot about Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti, two Liberal MPs who Trudeau dealt with summarily. Then there’s Darshan Kang and Hunter Tootoo (his technically not harassment, but disgraceful nonetheless), who received a bit more attention before and after they resigned. Then there’s the case of Liberal MP Nicola Di lorio joking that Conservative MP Dianne Watts was a stripper in front of other colleagues after hearing her ringtone, which Liberal-friendly online publication iPolitics thought was funny enough to include in its end-of-the-year top ten list of funniest stories in Canadian politics.

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Excerpt from the iPolitics article.

Liberal MP Sherry Romanado tried to even the score a bit by leveling accusations of harassment against Conservative James Bezan that one time, but seeing as how he had been open and transparent about what he’d said and his attempts to apologize and make the situation right, it didn’t have the desired effect.

The media seem pretty content to let the Liberals deal with these cases internally. No articles about whether the Liberals as a party have a sexual harassment problem, like the endless ones they do positing if conservatives have a racism or extremism problem on even weaker evidence. Not many real follow-ups to determine the nature of the allegations. No questions about how the investigations are proceeding or how they work or what the victims want or would like.

But at least we know the names of the men accused in the case of the five MPs I mentioned. As for the two, and possibly more, that exist for the provincial Liberals? Not even the names of the accused have been given.

We know that ex-Liberal MPP Kim Craitor (and his son) were accused of sexual harassment. Was he one of the two? Quite possibly, though there isn’t a definitive answer as of now.

Did Craitor become an ex-Liberal MPP for this reason? Christina Blizzard seemed to think so. Martin Regg Cohn, as is his wont, praised the Premier for “sacrificing” a riding to show how seriously she takes the issue despite acknowledging in the same column that she only acted after the complainant took her concerns to the media.

Is the other MPP(s) still in caucus? No one can say. All we get is the most wild speculation. Could it have been Bas Balkisoon, the Scarborough MPP who resigned suddenly in 2016? Shrugs all around.

Does the Opposition have their own cases they’re dealing with? Is that why they don’t try to resurrect this story? Are they satisfied with the process enacted by the Premier? Some things the public are just not meant to know, I suppose.

What we do know is that media in this province do a shoddy job of following these stories that it’s hard to tell whether this trail went cold out of negligence or lack of resources or a desire to shield the Premier — and by extension the province and alleged perpetrators — from scandal.

 

 

 

 

Kathleen Wynne and Loblaw’s Subsidy Bobble

Photo Credit: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

By Josh Lieblein

Woke Ontarians have been going on for weeks about all the ethically responsible and socially conscious things they’re going to do with the $25 gift card that the soulless corporatist monsters at Loblaw Company Ltd. have been giving out to get themselves off the hook for fixing the price of bread over the last fourteen years.

Let’s not exaggerate the situation: being caught with one of these gift cards in your wallet is the equivalent of branding yourself with a scarlet letter “A” for Asshole. Lynne Beyak wearing a MCGA (Make Canada Great Again) hat tweeting that we should just raise the minimum wage to $1M/hour so that EVERYBODY can be rich would be more popular in today’s Ontario than these gift cards.

There seems to be a widespread consensus that going along with Loblaw’s slimy attempts at reputation management schemes is NOT who we are as Canadians. And as is the case with the Tim Hortons’ minimum wage fight or the brouhaha over Beyak, the speed and alacrity with which the left went into formation over Loblaw’s price-fixing suggests to me a co-ordinated campaign by the Liberals and their union allies in achieving that consensus.

The thing about these full-court presses is that even the Liberals can only focus on a few at a time, and they tend to forget that Loblaw recently bought 25 of Tesla’s new all-electric trucks “as part of our commitment to electrify our fleet…” — trucks that Premier Kathleen Wynne offered a rebate of up to $75,000 for.

(I won’t get into the somewhat related issue of former Liberal MPP Glen Murray’s former chief of staff landing a job with Tesla early last year, or how in that same month the former chief of staff joined Tesla then-Environment Minister Murray announced rebates of up to $14,000 for luxury cars, including Tesla models. Woke leftists can only manage a few selective outrages at a time and I don’t want to overwhelm them any further, especially with an issue surely to leave them with cognitive dissonance in feeling happiness over more money being thrown at new green schemes and anger over Loblaw getting a gift of nearly $2 million from the government.)

So, I have to ask: is Loblaw’s attempt to green-wash their image by buying Liberal-subsidized, i.e. discounted trucks courtesy of Ontario taxpayers (some Loblaw’s customers or former customers), trucks less reprehensible than their attempt to buy goodwill with $25 gift cards to fix the PR disaster of them admitting to fixing the price of bread? Or does the fact that the Liberals gave the electric trucks their seal of approval over a supposed green energy initiative excuse Loblaw in this instance?

I think I may have an answer to this conundrum. You see, while Tesla’s electric vehicles aren’t economically viable to exist without some form of government subsidy, Loblaw Companies Ltd. has received no corporate welfare from Industry Canada.

While the left sneers at big business partnering with the state, it seems that they have much more time and energy to go after companies that the government can’t control. So while it’s convenient for the Liberals to have Loblaw opt into their subsidy scheme, the fact is that Loblaw could, until recently,  fix the price of bread behind the government’s back — and that’s a big no-no. Lucky for Loblaw corporate that they admitted their sin and apologized, so they only got their chains yanked on social media, instead of getting pummeled by the full wrath of the Liberals and their union overlords that Tim Hortons is now in the midst of receiving.

The selective outrage at Loblaw and Tim Hortons from those on the left is really the Liberals whining that there are still barriers to them achieving absolute control over businesses in Canada.

 

Vilification of Tim Hortons and Ontario Small Businesses another bleak sign Canada is in a slow lockstep march towards socialistic collapse

 

Leave it to the premier of Ontario and Canada’s state broadcaster to stoke anti-business ire by using Canada’s once-beloved homegrown coffee chain as their scapegoat.

After Premier Kathleen Wynne rammed through new legislation hiking the minimum wage by 21 per cent at the start of 2018, without conducting any impact assessment and going against her old pledge to not raise it above inflation and giving only six-months notice, the CBC had the perfect news report to whip up proletarian anger at the business community, which would deflect blame from the unpopular Liberal premier.

The CBC’s report on the Tim Hortons heirs cutting paid breaks and reducing benefits at two Tim Hortons store locations resonated with everyday Canadians and their general sentiment that fat cat millionaires are exploiting their workers to line their own pockets. The article was wildly popular, shared over 185,000 times and with over 7,000 comments, with many top commenters suggesting more than one way to skin the cats.

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After CBC teed up this story for the premier, Wynne drove home the false narrative that nasty business owners are keeping Canadians from making a living wage by mimicking US President Trump’s style of attack tweeting her opponent (ironically she has repeatedly chastised the US President for his bombastic behaviour in the past, now she’s taking a page out of his populist playbook).

 

Now, I’m not suggesting CBC conspired with Wynne, but it’s worth asking why CBC chose to lead with this particular story when there are countless other stories out there of small family businesses struggling to survive under the new conditions imposed upon them by Wynne’s government, and these small business owners are putting forth similar cost-saving measures. The CBC has a long track record of attacking businesses in Canada (some of it fair game obviously, but then you have ridiculous cases like the Subway fake meat fiasco which has led to the sandwich franchise suing the CBC, i.e. Canadians, for $210 million for defamation). When it comes to the CBC going after left-leaning governments, the public broadcaster’s paymasters, the ferocity is lost.

The Tim Hortons heirs, likely very wealthy from their inheritance (which Wynne inappropriately points out as if it has relevancy to whether or not their Tim Hortons locations are making a profit), who own two franchise locations in Cobourg are an anomaly compared to the average small business owner. CBC’s use of these Tim Hortons heirs as the case study of a business reacting to this government’s rash, self-serving and disruptive hike of the minimum wage distorts the real picture of average small businesses trying to cope. Furthermore, the CBC’s viral report doesn’t mention the huge additional cost small businesses owners like a Tim Hortons franchisee are now saddled with. Only at the end of one of its several reports on CBC’s The National last week did the public network briefly mention the cost to an average Tim Hortons location. According to Great White North Franchise Association, admittedly a biased source, when factoring wage increases, CPP, EI, and training the additional costs for Tim Hortons is just under $7,000 per full-time employee or $243,889 per year per average franchise with 35 employees. Even if those numbers are inflated, the wage increase alone means the average franchise is spending close to $200,000 more a year. Yet, CBC’s coverage from last week barely touches on this and and instead focuses on the public firestorm they unfairly unleashed on franchisees. Of course the CBC doesn’t give the NDP or Progressive Conservatives any airtime either.

By the end of the week they were still bashing the Tim Hortons franchise owners. While Ian Hanomansing was interviewing the author of a book on the iconic Canadian coffee chain he asked the author how much an owner typically makes from a franchise annually. After the author tells Hanomansing the average pre-tax amount is between $300,000-$400,000, the host says, “[Franchisees] work hard, as you know from the research you did in your book, but still $300,000 to $400,000, you know there are a lot of people in Canada that will look at that and say, ‘So franchisees are complaining about a small, depending on your perspective, increase in the minimum wage?'”

Small, eh?

$200,000-$243,889 is no small amount in additional costs that the franchisee is apparently just supposed to absorb. And if you factor in their pre-tax income is $300,000-$400,000, after taxes many franchisees could be left with very little annual income now. No wonder, with Tim Horton’s head office not allowing price increases and asking franchisees to eat all of the additional costs on their own, they’re now resorting to rolling back employees’ benefits and paid breaks (perks they already offered their employees without a government decree). This also doesn’t factor in the incredible risk and investment a franchisee has to pony up to buy a Tim Hortons location, and possible debt they’re paying off from the initial loan on that investment.

Instead of pointing all of this out, Hanomansing and CBC perpetuate the false notion that these franchisees are greedy by suggesting $300,000-$400,000 is a lot of money (which it is if they actually got to keep all of that and not have to pay off the initial investment and taxes). Never mind how hard many franchisees work and how they’ve created jobs for dozens of people, no, instead they shall be vilified by the public network. And the CBC was remiss in not pointing out in its coverage that the independent Financial Accountability Officer, employer groups, banks, and employers have all warned against this steep and sudden increase in the minimum wage and how it would cause inflation, cuts to workers’ benefits and hours, and a net loss of tens of thousands of jobs. The CBC, in spite of Ontarians being largely fed up with their premier, only seems to give Wynne national coverage when it puts her in a positive light.

Much of the chattering class also chimed in with their two-cents, joining in on the anti-Timmies bandwagon.

All of this isn’t to say I’m a pro-business absolutist. And it’s important to point out that Tim Hortons is largely owned by a Brazilian company now and deserved a lot of flack, along with the previous federal governments, for exploiting the temporary foreign workers program. And don’t get me started on how stupidly patronizing Tim Hortons ads are in trying to exploit Canadians into thinking buying Timmies is somehow their patriotic duty, but that the majority of mainstream media cheered on or didn’t push back against the premier vilifying small businesses by implying they’re all bullies and greedy by using the Tim Hortons heirs as symbolic of business owners as a whole or distraction from the whole, is the latest sign that Canada is becoming increasingly anti-competitive and socialist.

(The Ontario Liberal government has encouraged businesses to increase prices in order to pay their employees the higher wage, yet Tim Hortons head office isn’t allowing franchisee to do so, so really protests outside franchises and the boycott are misplaced.)

This anti-competitive malady is especially dire when our only neighbour down south has just slashed taxes, making us even less competitive, and the federal Liberals closed tax “loopholes” for small businesses while allowing the 0.0001 per cent to continue to reap the benefits of the tax loopholes that benefit these fabulously wealthy individuals.

You need look no further than the corporate welfare given to Bombardier — or the company’s lucrative government contracts like the one with the City of Toronto for its apparently defective street cars it can’t deliver on — or the relatively easy time Galen Weston and Loblaws have had over the bread price-fixing scheme — or the company’s sweet deal with Wynne’s government of up to $75,000 per-Tesla-electric-truck rebate for its new fleet to see that this country, like any country descending into socialism, vilifies competition while simultaneously and quietly declaring certain large corporations the winners. In other words a kleptocracy.

(I’d be remiss not to point out that The Globe and Mail and National Post had editorials calling Wynne out on her grandstanding. Even the Toronto Star had allowed a guest column pushing back, but the overall sentiment from many in the media, especially the state broadcaster that has immense sway in this country, and the general public has been one foolish contempt for small business, the lifeblood of any healthy economy and democracy. Bizarrely, National Post’s Andrew Coyne responded to the latest Tim Hortons brouhaha by suggesting the government mandate a guaranteed income instead. I guess the old saying needs to be revised to “The only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes and and income. Yes, even a top supposedly conservative columnist thinks everyone should get a guaranteed income, i.e. expanding welfare to all, and seems to be even more socialist than the oversized left on this issue.)

In one CBC segment on Friday the public broadcaster briefly included an independent coffee shop owner, before returning to bashing Tim Hortons again, and she had this to say about having to raise her rates 22 per cent,  “We’ve had two customers already leave and say ‘Tim Hortons hasn’t raised their rates.’ So we’re losing business because of this.” She also said she would likely have to close up shop for good.

For as stupid as the outrage at Tim Hortons and franchisees is, with things like #boycottTimHortons (a great way to put their employees out of work, while letting chains like McDonalds off the hook), the real people who will suffer are mom and pop shops like the local grocer owner, corner store owner, laundromat owner, restaurant owner, tailor, retail owner, etc. and the many workers who will lose hours, benefits and jobs over this reckless increase in the minimum wage. Tim Hortons or the franchisees will weather this storm fine, but small independent businesses and startups, what fuels a better life and increased wealth for us all through competition and innovation, will take the brunt of it.

In the coming days and weeks more unfortunate stories of middle class business owners closing up shop and layoffs of workers will come to light as the full effects of the minimum wage hike are felt. Also, everyone will see and feel the inevitable rapid rise in inflation from the minimum wage hike.

Perhaps Ontarians will eventually look past Tim Hortons franchisees trying to cope with being squeezed by their government and head office and look at how this reckless Liberal policy is hurting fellow Ontarians and doing further damage to our economy. All of this, and the “free” medication for anyone under 25 has me asking in my latest Loonie Politics column, “Are Ontarians Hopelessly Addicted to ‘Free’ Stuff and Money From Their Government?” The continued irrational lashing out by Ontarians at Tim Hortons franchisees, whipped up into a frenzy by their premier that has led the province to become the greatest indebted sub-sovereign nation in the developed world, seems to answer my question with an exuberant “Yes!!!!”

Canadians would do best to stop reading the fictional dystopias of Margaret Atwood and start reading about real-life nightmares, past and present, of the Soviet Union, Greece, and Venezuela.

 

 

The Lowdown on Kathleen Wynne’s Campaign Manager David Herle

By Josh Lieblein

David Smith. Don Guy. Jean Lapierre. Gerald Butts. Laura Miller. Katie Telford.

David Herle wishes he was part of this elite group of Liberal magicians. And while it must be validating for him that Kathleen Wynne trusts him enough to manage her re-election bid–enough to reward him with 900K in lucrative contracts–there are those within the Liberal fold who have reason to doubt that ol’ Diamond Dave can get the job done.

I suppose you necessarily must grow up with a desire to prove yourself when you belong to one of the few Liberal families in the great province of Saskatchewan. Apparently Dave’s dear sister Allyce bravely faced off against current CPC leader Andrew Scheer in his first electoral outing and placed third. Dave, meanwhile, distinguished himself as a driver for then-Saskatchewan Liberal Party leader Ralph Goodale, the only MP who has hung around long enough to represent both Trudeau governments.

When you grow up with King Ralph as your political high-water mark, it tends to create a bit of insecurity when you’re in the same room with infamous Trudeau advisor Keith Davey. That’s probably why Herle admitted in a moment of weakness that he wanted his name to surpass that of the infamous Rainmaker.

Unfortunately for our hero Dave, the upper echelons of the Liberal Party looked askance at him for his rough Prairie roots. As member of the John Turner faction of the party in the 80’s, the harassed and beleaguered Herle was repeatedly undermined by Trudeau Sr.’s Laurentian elites to the point where Dave reportedly lashed out and called Davey “a son of a b*tch“.

The embattled Mr. Herle did what all Liberals spurned by the Trudeau inner circle did: join Paul Martin’s camp. From there things turned out like you’d expect–a plum position at Earnscliffe, the lobbying firm fingered in the sponsorship scandal, a decades long brawl with Chrétien loyalist Warren Kinsella, and recurrent guest spots on political panels thanks to his friendship with Peter Mansbridge.

Through it all, Herle would continue to go overboard in carrying water for his old pal Ralph Goodale, ensuring that the sole Liberal seat in Saskatchewan would be held by Ralph and nobody else. At one point, he would be found spinning one of Goodale’s nomination rival’s thank-you outings for beer and pizza for campaign volunteers into a PSA against underage drinking.

But it all came crashing down when the responsibility for the 2004 and 2006 elections were placed on Herle’s shoulders. As the Liberal numbers plummeted in 2004, Herle went public with the dispiriting assertion that his campaign was “in a spiral“, which is exactly the sort of thing a group of candidates want to hear from their skipper.

Banished to Middle Earth after the Liberals were finally driven from power, he set up his own firm, the Gandalf Group, putting out economic prospecti, cataloguing his own positive press clippings, and carrying out interesting public opinion research. By 2012, he was still carrying a torch for Paul Martin, arguing that Mr. Dithers had built the party in the West in a way that Chretien never had, and that the Liberals would have been a truly national party if it hadn’t been for that inconvenient Sponsorship Scandal ruining things. As Trudeau soaked up all the glitz and glamour, Herle was relegated to clearing the way at the provincial level, orchestrating victories for Brian Gallant in New Brunswick and Kathleen Wynne in Ontario.

For all this, though, the Liberal A-team doesn’t seem interested in letting him make the calls. Trudeau rejected his pitch to use attack ads in 2015, and when things looked grim for Justin in the pre-election run-up and rumours were circulating that Gerald Butts might end up benched, Herle was–purely coincidentally, no doubt–being tapped as a potential replacement.

Fitting, then, that the politically desperate and seminally unpopular Kathleen Wynne would turn, once again, to the only Liberal as apt to attack when cornered as she is to manage what could well be the campaign she and the Ontario Liberal Party go out in a blaze of vainglory.