Thursday, October 10, 2013

Once In A While Their Voice Is Heard

It is a truism to state that the poor have little power to influence the political discussion. Those toiling away at minimum wage jobs, our silent serfs, for want of choice, are one of the invisible minorities (perhaps soon to be a majority?) seemingly easy to ignore.

This was baldly demonstrated last week when the infamously consultative Premier Kathleen Wynne chose the default position so near and dear to politicos everywhere: political pandering. Despite the fact that she struck a panel to study how to raise the minimum wage, she reassured a nervous questioner in Simcoe that a major hike in the minimum wage is not 'on the table.'

Yet sometimes serfs refuse to be ignored. It was with some satisfaction that I watched the following video of a Chicago McDonalds worker challenge the President of U.S. operations as he addressed the Union League Club in that city. While her temerity, doubtlessly borne of both courage and desperation, was not without consequences, she did a service for all who work in obscurity and ignominy:

Returning to Ontario, Star readers in today's edition offer their version of comeuppetance to Ms Wynne:

Re: Infrastructure key to Wynne restoring faith in Liberals, Oct. 6

It is discouraging to read Premier Kathleen Wynne’s assertion that a “major hike” in the minimum wage is “off the table.”

Ever ready to converse, consult and discuss options like the future of wind turbines with Ontarians before making definitive policy statements, the Premier doesn’t hesitate to be declarative on minimum wage policy even though she has a panel of experts touring the province to consult with the public on the issue.
The evidence for a strong social justice position on the minimum wage is stronger than for the pros and cons of wind turbines. Currently, a full-time, full-year worker on minimum wage earns more than $1,000 below the province’s official poverty line. How can the “social justice” Premier morally justify that disparity so quickly?

The Premier missed the opportunity presented by the question in Simcoe to educate the larger public about the inadequacy and injustice of current minimum wage policy and to commit her government to a basic minimum wage above poverty as a social justice priority.
Peter Clutterbuck, Poverty Free Ontario, Toronto

Wynn cool to raising minimum wage to $14, Oct. 8

Our seen-to-be-doing-something premier has got herself on the wrong side of the issue. She eagerly defends her fat-cat friends at the Pan Am games and their salary bonuses (“Wynne backs Pan Am’s $7M bonuses for executives,” Oct. 8) while 9 per cent of all Ontario workers toil at the minimum wage level (having skyrocketed from 4.3 per cent in 2003) of $10.25 per hour.

Oh, she is doing something — the Liberals appointed a panel last summer to study how best to set future minimum wage increases. We don’t need more study. We need prompt and meaningful action. If you’re not prepared to do something, please call an election and let’s get someone in who can.

R. Scott Marsh, Oakville

Our tax system greatly favours the rich. Where are the considerations for people living on poverty and many of them are working?

We have become a sick province when we no longer care about our fellow man. How can anyone call this social justice?

Premier Kathleen Wynne would like everyone to work and stay poor. She should get a life and look at the real picture.

Mary Beth Anger, Toronto


  1. Our son learned from a professor at the U of T long ago that, if the price of anything is low, it's because somebody else is paying, Lorne.

  2. A fact that far too many of us choose to be willfully ignorant of, Owen.