It’s that time of the year again – and not a moment too soon. Summer. Time to sit back, take a deep breath and enjoy the weather.
It’s also report card time. Time to be evaluated on the past year’s work.
OPSEU recently held its peer review and I am humbled by the support and trust our members have placed in me.
Having been acclaimed at Convention 2013, along with our President Smokey Thomas, is an honour that I won’t soon forget.
I’m proud to say that, thanks to the hard work of our activists, leaders and staff, our union is firing on all cylinders.
Regrettably, however, all is not good news.
A quick scan of all three political levels – municipal, provincial and federal – clearly demonstrates what happens when greed rules the day.
Federally, the Prime Minister’s Office finds itself embattled in the biggest scandal since the Liberal sponsorship disaster. Bad enough that Tory-appointed Senators were feeding at the public trough, but when they try to justify a $90,000 cheque from the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff as a good faith personal gesture? Seriously? But that’s what happens when democracy is diluted by big money interests.
Mr. Harper I give you an ‘F-‘
Provincially, despite the new Premier’s efforts to distance herself from her predecessor, the Liberal Party of Ontario remains under a cloud of suspicion. Power plant payments to the tune of more than $500 million for nothing other than the purchase of a couple Liberal seats, deleted emails and a former leader who remained tight-lipped to the end, have strained the public’s ability to trust any politician.
As a sign of goodwill to the new Premier, I give the Liberals a ‘D’.
Municipally, beyond the troubles of a Toronto mayor accused of hitting the crack pipe and hanging with gangsters, we have had two mayors in Montreal resign in the space of seven months. Add to that the mayor in Laval who has been charged with “gangsterism” and another under investigation in London Ontario, and well you get the picture.
No grade here a handful of municipal leaders. Only detentions, if you know what I mean.
And who pays for this behaviour? We all do.
Those wasted tax dollars should have gone to quality public services. To the front lines where it belongs. But it didn’t. Because collectively we decided to buy into the slogan that government should “be run like a business.” It has been. We’ve witnessed the results.
Transparency? Who needs it?
Accountability? Nice buzz word.
Democracy? Perhaps the biggest deficit we have today in government.
Sadly, public waste is too often confused by the media and the right wing as government waste. In turn, it is used in efforts to further slash government services.
In today’s world of five-second sound bites, we have to guard against that line of attack. We must constantly remind folks that it wasn’t public sector workers and their unions who allegedly misused public funds; it was the elected class.
But there is a silver lining. There is a politician who has risen above the fray to actually work on behalf of working people and those wanting to join those ranks.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath has held the Wynne government to account. By forcing a deal on the budget she accomplished two things.
First, she set the agenda for social change. She clearly made the point that tax cuts for the rich help exactly who they are designed to help: the rich.
And she highlighted that young people are being left behind in the current economy while our elderly parents are left to fend for themselves.
More importantly, her determination to make the Legislature work forced the tough questions that the Liberals now face. A snap election call would have closed the book on the power plant scandal. We would never have gotten to the bottom of this half a billion dollar boondoggle.
For her courage and commitment I give Horwath an ‘A+’.
As for Tim Hudak and his regressive Conservatives, he and his Labour attack dog, Randy Hillier, are best advised to ditch the White Papers and raise the white flag. They are officially a joke. And 70 percent of Ontarians know it.
There isn’t a grade I could give Hudak but let me say this: if my kid came home with the kind of report card this guy deserves it would be a long hot summer, with lots of early nights and no keys to the family car.
Which, finally, brings me to this. Enjoy the summer. Wrap yourselves in family and friends and when the kids bring home those report cards remember: it could always be worse. They could be a Prime Minister, Premier or Mayor.
How far we have fallen? Oh Canada!
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU