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We all have choices

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Dalton McGuinty and Dwight Duncan had choices. People or politics. Decency or deceit. Ontario or their entourage.

These choices brought predictable results. Threats of a “temper tantrum election” and the media’s translation of reality forced the worst possible result: a Tory flip-flop and the watering down of budget amendments that made sense for Ontario.

I do not hold a political party membership. The union should not be trapped in the dogma of any single party. Any of the three main parties, when in government, become the boss. While I don’t automatically hate the boss, I won’t cozy up either. I believe policies must be examined and supported one at a time. No party gets a free ride. McGuinty hates that.

Do you remember when he first came to power and promised to rebuild public services, stop privatization and throw greedy consultants out of Queen’s Park? How did he get to have his political future ride on giving cabinet the unilateral right to sell  ServiceOntario? I think it has to do with OPSEU’s refusal to join the “Working Families Coalition,” an organization that supports the Liberals.

We don’t believe in buying influence. We believe in doing what’s right for working people and Ontarians.

Why sell off ServiceOntario when privatization is a proven failure? Remember the ORNGE scandal? Even with my very public challenges, economists, politicians and right wingers have failed to prove privatization saves money or provides superior service.

The proof is in the numbers. Since 1995, the Ontario Public Service has been halved and yet Ontario now has its biggest annual deficit ever. Doesn’t make a lot of sense so blame those greedy unions. Yet, union density is dropping, especially in the private sector.

In the United States, private sector unions have almost disappeared. Right wingers say this is a good thing, yet job growth remains stagnant. In fact, states with the weakest economies are “right to work states” where unions have been obliterated. So, Mr. Premier, why persecute OPSEU and front-line workers who contribute so much to our economy? Is it personal? It is now.

Politics is the art of hope. When McGuinty stomped his feet like the school yard bullies he legislated against, Tory Leader Tim Hudak disappeared from the radar. There was only one politician fighting for Ontario – Andrea Horwath. She came through the experience a little beat up due to media spin. Andrea: a couple scraps will just toughen you up for the next bully. I’ve experienced this and prevailed. So will you!

Horwath did the right thing by putting measures into the budget for working people, the middle class and the disadvantaged. She brought the process to the brink without wavering. Her courage, decency and commitment to democratic principles must be admired. Like Ontario, she lived to fight another day.

The much anticipated Kitchener buy-election (I use this term purposely) is coming up. It will be crucial for OPSEU and Ontario. We will be there in force. That’s where McGuinty will meet his Waterloo. Real working families have had enough.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President

View all Presidents' Messages: 2009 to Current