Is Ontario doomed to four more years of Dalton McGuinty?

McGuinty sep 27 2011 debate
From September 27, 2011 Ontario election debate | screengrab from YouTube

The prospect of four more years of a government led by Dalton McGuinty leaves me with a sense of dread. Based on recent polls, we’ll probably to have a Liberal minority government, which is most likely to be propped up by the NDP with their anti-corporation, high-social-spending, pro-public-service-union agenda.

With only four days to go, most voter-preference polls show the Liberals in a lead or a statistical tie with Tim Hudak’s Tories. Andrea Horwath’s NDP trail with a respectable third-place showing.

I have already voted for the PCs, but it was not that the alternative to McGuinty was so attractive, but that the Liberal government has been so inept and deceitful over the last eight years—mismanagement of the security and energy files, broken promises, waste at public agencies like eHealth and out-of-control spending, which since 2003 has increased far faster than the province’s GDP growth rate.

Fundamental responsibilities of any state government is enforcement of the law, maintenance of the peace and protection of citizens. On this front, the Liberal government has been a miserable failure and do not deserve another term. Two examples for the sake of illustration:

First, in what Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin called a mass violation of civil rights, McGuinty passed a law that police used to exercise heightened powers during the G20 summit in Toronto and, by his own admission, failed to tell people that it had given police extra powers for the June summit.

Secondly, I remind readers of the travesty of justice that started in Caledonia in 2006 and continues today, though in reduced form. Residents of Caledonia were forsaken by their government and left to fend for themselves in the face of a violent insurrection by native band-members that saw non-native residents terrorized, police officers assaulted and public property destroyed. And, for the most part, the Ontario Provincial Police refused to intervene and arrest native lawbreakers, though some arrests were made later. Throughout, Dalton McGuinty has sought the moral low-ground on this file as he appeased the lawbreakers by abandoning the law-abiding.

Mismanagement and waste have been hallmarks of this McGuinty government. Remember in 2009 when Ontario’s auditor general issued a report in which he castigated the Liberal government and the senior management of the provincial agency, eHealth, for wasting $1-billion over a decade during which it failed to create an electronic health record. The report claimed the Liberal government allowed eHealth to waste millions on unused computer systems and to pay out other millions to consultants for contracts that were never tendered. This mismanagement occurred when then Energy Minister George Smitherman was health minister and continued under his successor, David Caplan, who resigned as health minister over the affair.

The number of McGuinty’s broken promises and flip-flops have reached comic proportions. It began with his now infamous 2003 written pledge not to raise taxes and continued in the last election when he again made his no-tax promise, both of which he broke when he enacted the Health Premium, eco-fees and the harmonized sales tax. And members of his caucus have mused about implementing a carbon tax or a cap and trade system that will have a similar negative effect on our pocket books. More recently, two gas-fired power plants in the Toronto area have been cancelled because of a voters’ backlash. The Grits had assured us these were essential to our energy plans, but quickly bowed to a not-in-our-backyard campaign. With Grits, principle is soon jettisoned and replaced with appeasement and pragmatism.

Yes, there was labour peace with the teachers and other public sector unions, and some gains were made in education and health care, but, boy, did we ever pay and pay and pay for it. Interest on Ontario’s provincial debt is over $10-billion a year—money that could better be spent on education, health, roads, transit or returned to residents as tax relief. And these staggering debt charges come during a time when interest rates are very low.  Just imagine what debt charges will be when interest rates go back to more traditional levels—the era of cheap money won’t last.

I’ll conclude with this shameful example of duplicity. Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal government promised to freeze the wages of provincial public-sector employees. Not only was that promise not kept, but the Grits tried to deceive voters by making an agreement with union workers for secret bonuses to be paid to them once election day has passed. Shameful.

And the voters of Ontario are asking for four more years of this?



Except photo, © Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
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The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.