Friday, February 14, 2014

Ontario Byelections: The change that really counts

It seems that the leaders of all three poltical parties in the province of Ontario sense that voters want change.  Premier Wynne, leading a minority Liberal government, was rejected by voters in the two byelections, but says change is wanted:

Real Change Wynne?

After writing off the byelections as "skirmishes" that aren't indicative of how things will go in a general election, Wynne vowed that the Liberals will do better whenever the campaign is held.
"I know people are looking for change in this province," she said. "Well I'm the change. My plan is the change. My team is the change, and that's the change we're going to take into the next election."

Opposition leader Horwatch, whose provincial NDP party wrested a seat from the Liberals, says change is wanted:

Real change Horwath?

Horwath says the byelection results sent a clear message that people are not happy with the Liberals, but adds she is not focused on a possible election.
"Families are worried about jobs, the cost of daily life and their health care system." Horwath said. "They hear the same old ideas coming from the same old parties and they know it’s time for a change."

Even Hudak, the leader of the provincial Conservatives, who has a habit of shooting holes in his feet every now and then, says change is wanted:

“This evening’s results prove that the people of this province want change,” Hudak said in Thornhill. “They sent the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals a clear message (that) they want leadership that will take decisive action, implement a plan to balance the budget and create jobs.”

All three are right, and all three are wrong.

Voters in Ontario want change, true. 

The change they want is a government that actually does something to arrest the failings of the past 20 or more years, when the political and business elite of Ontario sold out  the middle class workers by allowing the good paying manufacturing jobs to be outsourced to countries with low health policies, little real union representation, low wages and little worker protection. They did this without planning for and implementing changes in the nature of the workforce, and the work to be done, in Ontario. The result was the trashing of living standards for Ontarians, without any replacements.

Instead of good jobs, that allowed families to send kids to college or university or trade schools, we have a province that is humbled, driven to its knees, lacking hope and lacking means to give its citizens a fair shake. McJobs are not the same as real jobs. Ask anyone who works in the service industries: they do not pay the same, have the same benefits, and offer as much hope for a better future as real jobs do.

And what did the politicians of the major parties do during these lost decades? Fail to provide the province and the country with the foresight and leadership that Canadians have a right to.

The three parties in Ontario are also failing to do that, right now.

A major part of the problems is the democratic deficit in our legislatures and our parliament. The voices of Canadians are not really listened to, and their votes (which are supposed to ensure that they are listened to), are depreciated by our electoral system and parliamentary deficits.

If Premier Wynne is serious about listening to the people’s pleas for meaningful change, she can do something today that will be a giant step forward in this. She can cut a deal with NDP leader Horwath to (1) formally institute a modified form of proportional representation in Ontario, to take effect within 12 months, (2) delay any election call before that happens, (3) concentrate on the preparation of a major economic plan designed to replace the McJobs with real jobs over the next two decades, and (4) agree that the Liberal Party and NDP will act in concert to implement the major steps in such a plan, starting after the next government is sworn in, if not before.

Let’s see if our politicians are serious about our desire for meaningful change, instead of just paying lip service to it.

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