The wheels on the bus go round and round. The more things change the more they stay the same. The question remains, why?
Why does a manufactured crisis always result in the same response from “retail” politicians? Why does it always result in the loss of democratic rights and freedoms for the middle class and working people?
Are we a social democracy or not? Let’s examine a case in point: the Liberal draft legislation called “The Protecting Public Services Act”.
This legislation, if passed, gives government the power to review and approve every public sector collective agreement in the province. If they don’t like what they see, they can change it. The union members affected would, or course, have no recourse. This effectively ends collective bargaining in Ontario. There is nothing “free” about that. It’s where Queen’s Park meets the Kremlin.
And talk about a misnomer. While the Premier and his gang are peddling this nonsense, thousands of hard working and tax paying public sector workers have already been shown the door. Layoffs and privatizations continue. The Bill should have called it what it is: “An Act to Save the Political Skin of the Premier”.
This doublespeak and deception will not work.
Ontarians believe in fairness. They value loyalty. They are disgusted by a Premier who sits back while his colleague, Energy Minister Chris Bentley, goes down in flames for misleading the Legislature. McGuinty accepts none of the responsibility for the secret and lucrative deal made with power plant owners when they are suddenly told to move their half-built plant out of Oakville.
Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars were used to buy that Oakville seat during the last election. Meanwhile, with the proposed Protecting Public Services Act, there will be no collective bargaining for workers who provide services that touch the lives of almost every Ontarian. What makes this worse is that this politically-motivated action ignores the rights set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms!
It’s beyond belief that a decision to squander millions of tax dollars, money that could be used to fund needed services, was made just by Bentley, the lowly Minister of Energy. The trail has to eventually lead to the Premier’s office or at least his campaign gurus. It is only at that level that these kinds of calls are made.
McGuinty has established a disturbing pattern. Every cabinet minister thought to have an interest in becoming the future party leader has been thrown under the big red bus. First, there were the eHealth victims: Ministers Caplan and Matthews. Now, with the next scandal, Bentley goes under the wheels. Looking back, former ministers Smitherman and Bryant, during their darkest hours, were not thrown a lifeline either,.
Talk about burning political bridges! Just look at the relationship Liberals had with Ontario teachers. Teachers flooded Liberal campaign offices in past weeks when the McGuinty legislative hammer came down with a thud. They were greeted with a stark message: “Thanks a lot folks … we’re done with you!” That’s not coincidence. It’s Machiavellian.
And here is another coincidence. The same right-wing gang that brought us deaths and illness in Walkerton is now serving up the tainted meat scandal. Former Ontario PC ministers like Baird, Clement and Flaherty are making these decisions from their new perch on Parliament Hill.
Their call is the same, regulation be damned; the market knows best. They will protect our safety.
That’s why Tory leader Tim Hudak is now calling for the elimination of thousands of public sector jobs as his price for supporting the Liberal draft bill. Who needs inspectors, scientists, nurses, social workers, correctional officers, teachers or professors or the other front-line professionals who make this province work? Ontario does. That’s who.
The Tory economic plan for Ontario is called “Paths to Prosperity”. For most working people and the middle class it is better named “Paths to Poverty”. After all, along with the Liberals, they stand with the 1 per cent rather than the 99 per cent. This growing economic gap was brought to public attention a year ago through the Occupy Movement.
As we prepare to take on another unprovoked attack from these forces, I know that truth, justice, democracy and common sense will prevail. You can’t build a sustainable economy by tearing it down. You can’t protect public services by dismantling them. We are all in this together. We must not work towards the PC Path to Poverty, but to the plans set out by OPSEU.
You also won’t build loyalty by throwing your friends under the bus. From Ottawa to Queen’s Park the wheels grind slowly. I also know this: what goes around comes around. Dalton, we’ll see you on the flip side!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President