Friday, January 25, 2013

Dalton McGuinty farewell speech

Well since I'm here on the blog dime, I best say something about the big event of the night. Dalton McGuinty's sign-off speech is what everyone was here for. The main event before everyone piles out of here and heads off to hospitality suites where delegates will be wooed in this last of a kind delegated convention world.

At the beginning of the speech, McGuinty recalled his election as leader here in Maple Leaf Gardens with a joke. His wife leaned over to him and whispered, "I thought you weren't going to win!" Who knew. It's been 16 years. Not many present day Canadian political leaders who can aspire to that or match that tenure. Such impatience for results in this era, as we've seen at the federal level with Liberals - but federal Liberals are going to have to grow with their next leader, whoever it is. All this to say that you have a bit of a feeling in watching Dalton head off that he's of a kind we won't see much anymore.

McGuinty spent some time, of course, speaking of the changes that have transpired over the course of his leadership, global and as well, how Ontario has changed. "Liberals embrace change," he said, "we are relentless reformers" by quoting Laurier, as he did in his federal biennial speech earlier this year. Then, of course, he segued into achievements, as you would expect in a speech like this: education improvements, shutting down coal as part of the green energy plan and the fight against climate change, etc. That's all the tick the box part of the speech.

The heart of the speech though wasn't the words, it was in the emotion that happened when thanking family, Liberals he's worked with, the party, and so on. There was real emotion here and you heard it from people during and afterwards. He really carries a lot of respect and loyalty with him on his way out.

At the end, the secret to Dalton's success that a few budding politicians might want to pay attention to: How we succeed, he said, work hard, work together, be true to ourselves and put Ontarians first. You may have your political problems with him and over events of the last year, but there you go.

People are impatiently waiting for me so this isn't going to do the man real justice. But it was a very heartfelt, inspirational farewell. Just what the crowd wanted to hear.

I'll leave it at this, with his excerpt from a poem where he asked how he wanted to be remembered: "I was one of us."

See you tomorrow.