Friday, May 16, 2014

Following Politics Too Closely Takes Its Toll

I imagine that many people who follow politics closely do so in the belief that it is one of the few arenas that offers the possibility of change on a wide scale. Enlightened public policy, backed by the appropriate fiscal measures, can help bring about greater social and economic equity, thereby contributing to a more balanced and compassionate world. Unfortunately, perhaps inevitably, that hope is almost always dashed. Consequently, many of us fall victim to a deep cynicism about human nature.

In the current Ontario election campaign, there is much about which to be cynical. Three parties, all deeply flawed, all vying for our vote. There is the prospect of voting for a government long past its best-before date, the Liberals, whose leader, Kathleen Wynne, has thus far been unable to lay to rest the ghost of Dalton McGuinty. Next, Tim Hudak, leading the Progressive Conservatives, seeks to resurrect the ghost of Mike Harris, accompanied by an egregious contempt for the electorate's intelligence, reflected in his facile use of a fictitious number, one million, for the number of jobs he will create by cutting 100,000 of them.

At one time, solace might have been found in the New Democratic Party. Sadly that time is no more.

Its leader, Andrea Horwath, now inhabits an unenviable category. Having abandoned traditional progressive principles, like a pinball caroming off various bumpers, she emerges as one wholly undone by a lust for power.

Having forced this election by rejecting a very progressive budget on the pretext that the Liberals cannot be trusted, she is floundering badly as she tries desperately to reinvent herself and her party as conscientious custodians of the public purse, promising, for example, to create a new Savings Ministry, cut $600 million per annum by eliminating waste, and lower small business taxes.

Few are fooled by her chameleon-like performance. Carol Goar's piece in today's Star, says it all: Ontario NDP sheds role as champion of the poor: Andrea Horwath campaigns for lean government, forsaking the poor, hungry and homeless.

Horwath, says Goar, is so preoccupied with winning middle-class votes, assuring the business community she would be a responsible economic manager and saving tax dollars that she has scarcely said a word about poverty, homelessness, hunger, low wages or stingy social programs.

She continues her indictment:

She triggered the election by rejecting the most progressive provincial budget in decades, one that would have raised the minimum wage, increased the Ontario Child Benefit, improved welfare rates, and provided more support to people with disabilities. She parted ways with the Ontario Federation of Labour and Unifor, the province’s largest private-sector union. And she left MPPs such Cheri DiNovo, a longtime advocate of the vulnerable and marginalized, without a social justice platform to stand on.

No vision. Not a scintilla of progressive policy. Only the perspective of an uninspired and uninspiring bookkeeper.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here, is what Dante said was inscribed on the entrance to hell. These days, it could equally apply to those who have thrown in their lot with the Ontario NDP.


  1. Sadly, Lorne, there is great reason to be cynical.

    1. I was watching the local noon news, Owen, and a poverty advocate was talking about how none of the parties has talked about the problems of poverty in the province. I think he answered his own question as to why when he said that poor people have priories that often don't include voting.

      As you say, there is indeed great reason to be cynical.