Not any more

Down in polls, McGuinty turns to Twitter

In Canada on October 3, 2010 at 13:20

By Lee Greenberg

TORONTO • One year from his third election — and seven from his 2003 entree to power — Dalton McGuinty has turned to Twitter to connect with the people he leads. The Ontario Premier says the social networking tool has opened his eyes to a world of opinion — both good and bad — on his governing style.

“I hear from everybody,” he said in an interview. “That’s the great thing: you’re out there, and people give us the straight goods. That’s very helpful.”

You can follow his tweets @Dalton_McGuinty. He already has more than 3,000 followers.

He’s going to need the help. In the run up to the Oct. 6, 2011 election, Mr. McGuinty is 12 percentage points behind relatively unknown Conservative Leader Tim Hudak. Worse still for Mr. McGuinty’s Liberals, 76% of respondents in a recent Angus Reid poll indicated it is “time for a change” at Queen’s Park.

The fact that it is happening in a city where the Liberals own 19 of 23 seats is sending shivers down many Grit spines.

“This is very worrying [for him],” says Graham Murray, a lobbyist who publishes the Inside Queen’s Park newsletter. “There’s obviously considerable dissatisfaction, specifically in his handling of the economy.”

Issues are now beginning to stick to the man once known as the “Teflon Premier.” Unions, among the biggest beneficiaries of Liberal largesse over the first two McGuinty mandates, are complaining about a proposed two-year wage freeze.

The newly created harmonized sales tax has incited waves of anger unseen in Mr. McGuinty’s earlier years of rule.

There have been protests over wind turbines, environmental disposal fees, and, most recently, a government decision to wind up the Nortel Networks pension plan, at Liberal events across the province.

Mr. McGuinty, 55, says the increasingly frequent protests are “part and parcel of decision making.”

“We’ve made some important decisions that are not well received in all quarters. That’s all part of a very healthy dynamic democracy.”

In the wide-ranging interview in his office, Mr. McGuinty hinted at the frustration he feels with mainstream media. It is, he said, one of the reasons he has sought a more direct link with voters.

“If we rely on … [mainstream] media to interpret for us the reality that is experienced by families on a daily basis, we’re only going to get a very tiny sliver of the truth,” he said. “When people show up and tell me they’re unhappy with certain things, you can’t help but say you know, I better make sure I give full thought to where we move next on this score. When people are tweeting at me, I get that.”

Ottawa Citizen

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