Mixed martial arts, online gambling — is it time to say goodbye to “Premier Dad”?

Premier Dalton McGuinty insisted yesterday that he’s not worried his flip-flops on the controversial sport or Internet wagering will tarnish his Boy Scout image.

“I never knew I had one,” he said with chuckle.

McGuinty had always dismissed the idea of allowing the combat sport saying it just wasn’t a priority for Ontario families.

But he gave the sport another look because the economy is now on the mend, McGuinty explained after a speech in Windsor to Ontario municipalities.

The governing Liberals took a “serious look” at MMA during the last caucus meeting, and decided to give it their blessing over the weekend after gauging public opinion on the issue, he said.

“Ontarians have been pretty straightforward with us,” McGuinty added. “They said, ‘We want a choice.’ And we will make sure that they have that choice.”

But he acknowledged that money was also a motive for his cash-strapped government’s reversal on MMA, saying it will allow Ontario to remain “competitive” in hosting the events. Money also appeared to factor into the government’s abrupt decision last week to cash in on Internet gambling, an idea McGuinty had derided during his days on the Opposition benches.

It seemed out of character for a ban-happy government that has previously prohibited pit bulls, pesticides, using cellphones while driving, smoking in vehicles carrying children, and alcohol for any driver age 21 and under.

“It’s the height of hypocrisy,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath.

But McGuinty dismissed the suggestion that he’s sending mixed messages by imposing strict rules on young drivers, while allowing them to gamble online.

McGuinty defended the move, saying Ontario residents are already gambling on thousands of websites.