It has been a hot summer. The provincial government that had proclaimed itself to be a peace-maker, attacked working people and the middle class. It seemed that Right Wing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had moved to Ontario.
In past months I set out the reasons for Ontario’s downward economic spiral. I noted who is primarily to blame. With the close of summer it is time for review.
First, Canada’s media has become the public relations department for the rich and powerful. My experience with those that run these firms leads me to this belief. Their mission is simple. Sell the audience the biggest lies with the fewest words. All too often, they succeed. After all, who has the time to test their statements with independent research? Here is one recent example.
This summer, the government attacked Ontario teachers. Soon after, they expanded the attack to all public sector workers.
Without the threat of a strike, or unions taking the legal steps required for these actions, McGuinty put the scare into parents with statements that a strike was imminent. His actions, coupled with the by-elections timed for the same period, reeked of the smell of politics. The Liberal education legislation was called: “The Putting Students First Act”. It should have been called: “The Get a Majority First Act”.
The media made the legislation and Liberal claims a theme of the by-elections in Kitchener Waterloo and Vaughan. We know what the real story should have been: Liberal corruption and mismanagement with ORNGE, E-Health, hastily moved power plants, bankers and bonuses.
Second, my previous reports showed that corporate tax cuts were the biggest rip off of all times. I was supported by the Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney and Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty when they stated that about half a trillion tax dollars had found their way out of the economy, into the mattresses of corporations.
Jobs were not created as funds instead turned into corporate savings. To increase the corporate extravagances, public services and jobs were slashed. Canada’s Old Age Security Plan was reduced for all of those approaching retirement. Democratic institutions, and employees, were sacrificed.
Yet, the gold-plated pensions of MPs remained untouched. Self-interest – of course not!
Corporations could have helped finance economic recovery. They did not. Corporations proved their basic amoral character. They have no interest in being good corporate citizens. They exist only for shareholder profit.
Corporations have a limited life. They are born, thrive and die as the last drops of profit are extracted from markets. The lives of their workers and communities hang in the balance. In a democratic country, that’s not good enough. People, the true shareholders of society, are worth more than shareholder dividends. People are not expendable, to be used up in pursuit of corporate wealth.
What has been the government’s response? They have cut public sector jobs, frozen wages, attacked benefits and capped pensions. To make matters worse, any wage freeze is actually a reduction, given inflation continues to make goods more costly. And so, our important middle class dwindles.
Lastly, we see the evidence that greed has led to the birth of a new social class: bankers, or as I like to call them, “bankstas”. Scotia Bank profits are up 57% in the 3rd quarter. BMO’s is up 37% over the same period. RBC came in with a whopping $2.2 billion in profits. Banks earned almost $8 billion profit in one fiscal quarter. This money was extracted from us.
Imagine if instead, corporations invested their retained dollars in human capital, research, innovation, technology, training and infrastructure. This would build up individuals, families and communities. This would encourage economic growth by building rather than cutting jobs.
Tragically, supporting communities is not part of the corporation or government game plan. They use crisis to keep people scared and under control.
My message is clear.
OPSEU continues to demand an end to corporate welfare and the destructive impact of public service cuts. Impoverished workers do not make empowered consumers.
We will continue to show that current trends erode Ontario’s vital middle class. We will continue to prove that workers and unions aren’t to blame for where we all are today.
It’s all about greed and the impotence of politicians. Politicians refuse to take on corporations, bankers and the wealthy.
The economic watering hole is getting smaller as it’s siphoned into a giant corporate sponge, right on time, according to plan.
The tide is turning. Like a tsunami, public opinion is shifting and moving this way. Working people, with the labour movement, have powered this change. We have a voice that can set out the facts. We are not going away. We will continue the struggle. That’s our mission!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President