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Deconstructing Greg Sorbara

March 22, 2017

My, but Greg Sorbara is one canny political operative.

There he was on TVO’s flagship The Agenda show with Steve Paikin last night, giving a very savvy run-down on the upcoming election.

“This is going to be a very difficult campaign,” opined Sorbara. He should know. He is largely credited with masterminding some of the Liberals’  greatest election campaign triumphs. He’s one of the most politically astute operatives around. When he speaks, politicians listen. Reporters turn on their recorders. TV camera lights go on.

“It doesn’t look good for the Ontario Liberal Party,” he went on. But then he went blithely on to praise the good job the Liberals have done.

“This Liberal government has done a really good job,” he said – mentioning schools, the economy, healthcare and infrastructure spending as centres of excellence. He mentioned in passing the government’s battle with doctors – but slid over it as a hiccup on the road to greater Liberal glory.

Okay, let’s take a look at that record. This province is the most indebted sub-national government in the world. The Liberal government has tripled the accumulated debt since they took over in 2003. It’s not for a lack of spending. The Liberals have hiked taxes time and time again – through their “health care levy,” the introduction of the HST, eco fees, hikes in user fees on licences and now through cap and trade.

Yet they still can’t balance the books. Their handling of the electricity sector leaves you wondering if this province can ever recover from their mismanagement. The manufacturing sector of this province, the great industrial heartland that produced thousands of good blue-collar jobs, was fuelled by cheap, abundant electricity. The mainstay was always the Sir Adam Beck plant at Niagara Falls that produces the cleanest, greenest, cheapest electricity on the planet. With the ruinous Green Energy plan, the province at times spills water at the plant in order to buy electricity from expensive wind turbines and solar sources.

That is not good management.

Healthcare is a mess. We have seen massive spending boondoggles in eHealth and Ornge. Meanwhile, nurses are laid off and doctors in this province are threatening job action.

Education? Well, rural schools are being closed, so kids have to take long bus rides to school. And Newstalk 1010 is running a series this week that talks of violence and other problems in schools.

But you have to hand it to Sorbara. He’s an old hand. He knows how to say utter rubbish with a knowing look and with great authority and pretend everything in the garden is lovely.

“I don’t understand why the people of Ontario are so down on the Ontario Liberals,” Sorbara told Paikin, “and particularly Kathleen Wynne.”

There are “grave, grave,” problems ahead, he said.

I suspect that statement has more to do with internal Liberal politics than for broader public consumption. Is he sowing the seeds of dissent within the party to make way for a snap leadership contest? Sorbara is a powerful voice in the party. And he doesn’t like losing. When Sorbara whispers, Liberals listen. Does he have a new leader  in mind?

Sandra Pupatello? Steven Del Duca? Yasir Naqvi? Michael Coteau?

The possibilities are endless.

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