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OPINION: McGuinty is moving on

Outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty speaks at the Ontario Liberal Leadership convention in Toronto on Friday, January 25, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

It shouldn’t come as a great surprise that Dalton McGuinty resigned his Ottawa South MPP seat Wednesday.

For me, the big surprise was that he didn’t resign it when he stepped aside as premier back in October. I’m amused, but not surprised, by the vitriol of some who characterize the move as “another broken promise,” rather than to accept and to point out the obvious, which is that former premiers don’t continue sitting as backbenchers in legislatures they once led. Not one former premier ever has.

Perhaps Dalton McGuinty shouldn’t have left himself wide open to that cynicism when he did step down as premier by saying that he would “stay until the next election.” I suspect his motive was more out of a sense of courtesy to the riding he represents — rather than a premeditated, Machiavellian scheme to rip them off by collecting a MPP salary and pension benefits, with no intention of showing up in the legislature or helping to expedite the renewal of a constituents expired provincial park pass. That’s what backbench MPPs are expected to do, but that is not what former premiers do.

To be somewhat fair and thoughtful, he no doubt thought that an election would take place sooner rather than later. In fact, an election could have been triggered today if Wynne’s budget had not passed with the support of the NDP late yesterday. With the budget passed, there will not likely be an election in Ontario for at least a year.

So, with an election at least a year away, resigning his seat is not only the right thing for Dalton McGuinty to do for the benefit of the people of Ottawa south. It is the necessary thing for him to do in order to get on with the next phase of his life — to most likely follow in the footsteps of other former premiers like David Peterson, Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, which is to sit on corporate boards or to partner as business advisors with big Bay Street law firms.

You may not like or agree with opportunities available to political leaders when they retire — especially if you despised their conduct or political policies when they held the reins of power. However, leveraging the leadership experience and broad network of contacts into a less taxing (no pun intended), but more lucrative career is the way it works. Just sayin’ …