When it comes to the G20, Dalton McGuinty is a man of many moods

When it comes to the G20, Dalton McGuinty is a man of many moods

Dalton McGuinty teaches Ontarians how to please some of the people some of the time (Image: Jennifer K. Warren) 

Is it just us, or is it hard to get a read on Dalton McGuinty lately? He’s come under fire from the public (and a few of his own Liberal MPPs) over the handling of the G20 summit in Toronto— specifically the five-metre rule that never gave Toronto police additional authority—yet, reviewing his statements in the press, we’re not sure exactly where he stands. Here, a quick roundup of the premier’s all-over-the-map G20 statements.

On the Saturday when the black bloc was raging through downtown, McGuinty posted a statement saying,

I strongly condemn the actions of those responsible for the vandalism and violence we’ve seen on our streets today.

There is no need for it. There is no excuse for it. It is not the Ontario way.

Peaceful protest has always been part of the bedrock of our democracy. The vast majority of today’s demonstrators have been peaceful and responsible. However, willful, mindless destruction and violence have no place in our province. I appeal to all involved to allow calm to prevail.

I want to thank our police officers for upholding the rule of law and keeping our community safe.

An appropriate statement to issue when Foot Lockers are being smashed and BlackBerrys looted. But when police conduct was called into question after reports of misconduct on the Sunday of the summit weekend, McGuinty sidestepped an apology. CBC and Canadian Press quote him:

Some confusion arose, and in hindsight I think that we could have, and probably should have, done something to make it perfectly clear to people.

Some confusion? You’re telling us.

Then, when the suggestion of an inquiry came up, he told CTV, “I don’t believe the circumstances warrant an inquiry. If some people have concerns, they have various avenues that are available to them.”

Finally today, after repeated deliberations with the press, the Toronto Sun reported McGuinty coming somewhat clean:

Torontonians and Ontarians in general underwent “tremendous psychological scarring” as they watched police cars burn and property damaged in the city’s core, he said.

“There’s got to be a better way,” McGuinty said Wednesday. “It was very intrusive on life in Toronto.”

So basically, McGuinty thinks the black bloc was horrible and applauds the police’s actions against them, the police’s powers were misunderstood and the government should have clarified them, but a public inquiry is unnecessary, even though the whole thing was a disaster. Oh, and cities shouldn’t host summits.

Well, at least one of those sentiments is obvious.

Premier’s statement on G20 violence, June 26,2010
McGuinty doesn’t rue secrecy on G20 law [CBC]
McGuinty says no to a G20 public inquiry [CTV]
No more downtown summits: McGuinty [Toronto Sun]