PC leader Tim Hudak is promoting his white papers titled the "Paths to Prosperity" even though his white papers just plot a course to prosperity for those who are already prosperous.
OPSEU President Smokey Thomas has referred to Hudak’s plan as the "road to ruin", and he's right. It’s the road to nowhere for the current middle class and those hoping to rise to that economic level.
Hudak's plan will, by design, protect his rich pals and corporations. They are the same people that now exploit an Ontario workforce that lives at the edge of an economic cliff. That's why I call Hudak’s plan the 1 per cent solution – a political plan on steroids designed to create even greater income disparity.
Hudak's plan is based on the discredited theories of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics. These theories were the foundation for the economic actions of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Augusto Pinochet and others. They are founded on austerity, tax cuts for the wealthy and huge reductions in the role of government.
Let’s look further. First, tax cuts for the wealthy. Why? Hudak’s plan ensures that the rich will stay rich. Hudak believes this will result in the wealthy using that money to create good paying jobs for the rest of us. Hudak sees this as another example of trickle-down economics! Drip, drip, drip!
As a second critical action is Hudak’s declaration of war on organized labour. Hudak claims the labour movement is a drag on the economy. How can rich people be rich if unions force them to share their wealth with the working people who create these riches?
The solution – Hudak’s ‘Right to Work’ proposal, actually a plan to promote dues evasion – designed to bankrupt the union movement. Hudak sees money as power. If unions have no money then they will have no power. While this underestimates the collective will of individuals who’ll continue to demand justice and fairness, many effective social justice campaigns need a strong financial base.
Third, Hudak wants to eliminate “red tape”. He says that government regulation kills jobs.
We know that’s wrong! The lack of oversight is what kills. The proof comes from Walkerton and the listeria found in meats from Maple Leaf foods. Both could have been averted with stronger regulation.
Hudak thinks inspectors hold back productivity in the private sector. Profit-driven corporations can be trusted to do what is right. (Hudak is also rankled by the fact that the inspectors are usually unionized.)
Well, Hudak's schemes don't surprise me. What truly does amaze though is the short and selective memory of many in the public.
Short memories cannot just be blamed on the public. Corporate media plays a huge role by rubbing out key parts of the truth. A good example is our partial memory of the NDP Ontario government. Thanks to the corporate media’s message, many eyes roll when we hear about the Bob Rae NDP years.
Yet somehow, no one remembers what came before that government. The preceding Petersen government had arrogantly called an early election in the midst of the Patti Star scandal. And that was just one of their shortcomings. Remember now?
Then there was the Harris term. Think back to that time, when nurses were compared to hula hoops; water wasn't safe to drink; consultants soaked taxpayers with little to show for it; peaceful protesters were attacked by police and Dudley George was murdered.
All Ontario could show for it (when the Conservatives left office) was a $6 billion dollar deficit and an unrecognizable province.
Then, Dalton McGuinty took power. While working people paid the freight for his government’s blunders, bankers ruled the roost. His government gave us broken promises, scandals and mismanagement.
Next, are we to get the Hudak plan? I hope not.
We must say no to a plan that will just destroy public sector workers; freeze wages; kill unions and let corporations raid what's left in our collective cookie jar.
We must promote a better way forward. Invest in education; promote training; and encourage productivity gains through research and technology. Put in place incentives so corporations will free up all the "dead money" they are now storing in vaults both here and offshore. Demand accountability. Let’s work together again.
Give working people a pay raise so that they can be better consumers. Recognize that powerful unions and a strong vibrant middle class are allies, not enemies.
The road to prosperity should be a road well-travelled; a road without tolls or special treatment for those with wealth. That road should be one that can be travelled by all Ontarians.
Our road should not intersect with Hudak’s path.
When I think Hudak, I think boondoggle. Think back to the Highway 407 privatization that allowed Hudak’s rich pals to fill their pockets while regular folks were left stalled in gridlock.
That's the Tory way. That’s wreckonomics. It is the 1 per cent solution that is no way to rebuild Ontario's economy.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU