Painting the Premier’s resignation for what it really is
On Monday night, Premier Dalton
McGuinty took Ontario by surprise by announcing he was stepping down as
Liberal party leader. While the timing of this announcement may have
been unforeseen, we have to be honest and ask: Is anyone really
surprised by this
What took most people by
surprise was that McGuinty also announced that he is proroguing the
Legislature until a new party leader is chosen. And, to top it off, he
will continue as Premier until that happens, which could be as late as
I’m going to skip any niceties
here and leave all the flowery compliments on McGuinty’s dedication to
public service to the political pundits. The bottom line is this Premier
is ducking responsibility for his government’s failed political schemes.
McGuinty is STILL running this
province, and will continue to do so without the checks and balances of
the opposition parties at Queen’s Park.
By proroguing the Legislature,
McGuinty gets to merrily continue running the government without
accountability. He does not have to answer tough questions about the
Ornge scandal. The contempt hearings against energy minister Chris
Bentley will now go away. But more importantly, he gets to dodge taking
responsibility for one of the biggest political conspiracies that has
happened in Ontario in recent memory – the gas plant fiasco.
Here’s a government that spent
nearly a billion dollars of taxpayer money for one reason, and one
reason only: to get enough seats to form a majority government. And they
failed. Using public money for political gain is one of the biggest
taboos in government…and now McGuinty is trying to walk away from this
His government then showed their
true arrogance by demanding that working people pay money they scarcely
have in the form of wages freezes and benefit cuts to pay for all this,
disguising it as cutting down the deficit. But it wasn’t just a demand.
They passed a law to strip the teachers of their rights to collectively
bargain. And he was getting ready to do the exact same thing to half a
million more public sector workers. This was not a democratic
government...it was a dictatorship that would set back workers' rights
nearly 50 years.
Where does this leave us?
Proroguing the Legislature is an unnecessary, and, in my opinion,
cowardly move. For the next four to six months, democracy at Queen’s
Park is dead. The only thing the government can’t do during this time is
pass any new legislation. That means the “Protecting Public Services
Act” is history for now.
That means we can now move
forward on bargaining contracts in the OPS and BPS without a guillotine
hanging over our heads. We can put proposals forward that will protect
public services and ensure that those who deliver them can do so
effectively and efficiently. Let’s be clear…this won’t be an easy chore.
It will take creativity at bargaining tables and strong support from the
members to reach that goal.
So with all the drama playing
out in Ontario politics aside, we will now focus on two things. One is
preparing for what will certainly be a decisive Ontario election this
coming spring. And two, which is more important to our members, continue
to strengthen public services one collective agreement at a time. We
will communicate, educate and mobilize. That is what OPSEU has always
done. That’s what we owe our success to.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Ontario Public Service Employees Unions