Fixed election dates were supposed to take the surprise out of elections. But it’s notoriously hard to tame the political beast, and we’re seeing a good example of that right now.
A couple weeks back, hardly anyone in Ontario was paying attention to the June 7 election. All of a sudden, it’s headline news. Why?
Not because of a burning issue of critical importance to the lives of Ontarians, like privatization.
There’s no raging debate about the looming costs of soaring electricity rates, thanks to the Liberals’ disastrous sell-off of Hydro One.
There’s no heated discussion about public-private partnerships, which have enriched developers at a cost of billions of dollars to ordinary taxpayers.
Even the failure to lay charges against Chris Mazza, former CEO of Ornge – a Liberal privatization boondoggle that led to the loss of millions – barely raised an eyebrow.
No, the political world is abuzz at the thought of a barroom brawl between two political clans: the Mulroneys and the Fords.
Along with Christine Elliott and also-ran Tanya Granic Allen, Caroline Mulroney (daughter of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney) and Doug Ford (brother of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford) are vying to lead the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.
Most Ontarians would say that Brian Mulroney and Rob Ford were failed politicians. Yet so many people – and not just Tories – are talking about their relatives as the saviours of the PC Party.
Is it because of their plans to improve the lives of Ontarians by halting the privatization of public services – the services people use and rely on every day?
Have they offered solutions to the crisis that has seized Ontario’s corrections system and threatens the safety of our communities?
Judging from last night’s debate, the candidates are far more worried about a planned increase to the minimum wage next year than the fact that big corporations are letting their princely tax savings collect dust in the bank.
Mulroney thinks booze in corner stores is just what Ontario needs to get back on track. Oh, and cutting all that government fat that politicians never actually find. Remember the gravy train?
It’s obvious these aspiring leaders are clueless when it comes to what Ontario individuals and families need.
Their lack of imagination and even an awareness of the huge problems facing the province are shocking – even to someone who has dealt with a ton of bad governments.
Do they know about the continued collapse of the manufacturing base in Ontario?
Are they aware of, or concerned about, the continued rise in part-time and precarious work – even in the midst of a so-called booming economy?
What will they do about multinational corporations that punish their poorest employees because the minimum wage they’ve been paid is finally a bit higher?
Do they have solutions for our chronically underfunded college system – one so starved for cash that colleges set up shop in notorious regimes like Saudi Arabia?
Or will they just keep riding the same tired hobby horses that have been in the Tory stables since Mike Harris and his disastrous Common Sense Revolution?
Ontarians have had 15 years to see what this Liberal government delivers: privatization, corporate giveaways, a starved health system and a bankrupt college system.
We deserve to know the PC Party’s solutions to the real issues – policies that will put bread on the table, a bed in a hospital and a teacher in the classroom.
Ontarians deserve better – much better – than we’ve been getting since 2003. If Progressive Conservatives think they can do better, then we have a right to know how.