In the real world, by most reasonable definitions, corruption in government would of course refer to actions by certain members within that government that lead to personal/private financial benefit, sometimes against the public interest. Corruption would be insider criminal activity or malfeasance that usually undermines the public good.
But in this Ontario election, the word "corruption" seems to apply to other things as well: when Andrea Horwath or Tim Hudak use the word, they seem to be referring to actions or political decisions by the Liberals designed to simply position the Liberals to win more votes, such as the decision to move two gas plants prior to the 2011 provincial election.
But is blowing maybe as much as $1.1 Billion over the next 20 years and failing to be upfront about those possible costs an example of corruption?
By all reasonable standards, that's quite a major stretch. If it is, then both Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath are guilty of attempted corruption too. They both also promised to scrap those gas plants after all, not knowing the costs involved. The original sites in Oakville and Mississauga were deemed the best locations by hydro authorities considering the needs of the electricity grid and growing population trends. Only politically were the sites absolutely wrong. If McGuinty is definitely guilty of anything, it was taking a long time to react to growing public opposition to those sites. McGuinty had a habit in government of making tough but necessary decisions and staring down the opposition. It wasn't for nothing that he introduced the health premium in 2004 or the HST.
But when Hudak and Horwath smelled political blood over the sites of those plants during a tight 2011 election, they both promised to cancel the projects. The worried Liberal campaign reacted by pledging to move both projects.
It wasn't corruption that led to the decision to move those plants. It was pure politics. The subsequent handling of that decision including the less than upfront approach by the McGuinty gang admitting the possible costs was just inept. The folks who masterminded the gas plants fiasco are thankfully all out of government at Queen's Park.
So does the smear "corruption" really apply to Wynne's government? Not at all. She's been completely upfront about her non-role in the initial decision, as well as her actions opening up the inquiry into the costs and her efforts to change the process into how such projects are sited. The only reason we can quote a "$1.1 Billion" figure is because she asked the Auditor General to look into the costs of both Oakville and Mississauga. The truth is out because of Kathleen Wynne.
Even if many voters dislike the behaviour of McGuinty's crew over the gas plants, most wouldn't use the word "corrupt" to describe it. It cheapens the word "corruption" to call what happened corruption.
I have to blame Tim Hudak and Andrea Horwath for this cheapening of our dialogue, giving permission to their numerous minions on Twitter and elsewhere to use the same cheap language. See below for four such examples:
Tories Tim Hudak and Lisa MacLeod even went as far as to claim that Kathleen Wynne had overseen and possibly directed possible criminal actions in this scandal. They had no evidence of this but they made the accusations anyway as they were desperate to smear Wynne with the same gas plant scandal brush.
But Wynne fought back against these lies by suing them for libel. Since then, Hudak and MacLeod have toned done their smears.
Now Andrea Horwath is repeating the smear at every stop, dropping blanket statements, "The Liberals are corrupt...You don't have to vote for corruption, you can vote for me!" Right-wing media reports about private companies seeking political revenge on the Liberals in the dying days of this campaign reinforce the false narrative.
But the accusations of corruption are largely baseless. The Liberals have done nothing the other parties haven't also done or wouldn't do. The public seems to know this full well.
Perhaps one day after this election the word "corruption" will again return to its actual definition.