McGuinty Shows His Stripes

August 5, 2010

“Daddy, daddy! I thought you told me we killed all those dragons of the Common Sense Revolution?! That they were all dead and would never, ever come back again! That’s what you said, daddy. That’s what you told me!”

“Well, son. It’s true. I did tell you that. I told you that because I thought it was true. I did think we’d killed all the monsters. But the truth is, some monsters just can’t be killed. You can wound them. You can hurt them very, very badly. It’s just some monsters, well son, they’re like a Hydra.”

“A hydra, daddy? You mean like a car?”

“No, no son. Not like a car. A hydra is a monster with many—actually. You know what some monsters are like? Like those bad guys you read in you comic books. First, they’re one thing but before you know it, they’re something else entirely.”

“You mean, like a shapeshifter, daddy?”

“Yes, like a shapeshifter, son. Changing shapes all the time but their essential being, their evil core is still the same…”

Or as the Who once sang, Meet the New Boss/Same As the Old Boss although, apparently, we can get fooled again.

If there was ever any question about the politics of the McGuinty Liberal government, their Bill 68, An Act to promote Ontario as open for business by amending or repealing certain Acts, should seal the deal. These guys are Liberal if you mean neoliberal, Tory in other words. And no old school Red Tory either. They are out-and-out Harper/Harrisites sporting red ties instead of blue, smiling broadly to mask what is nothing but a pro-business soul.

Ontario. Open For Business. If that doesn’t sound like a legs open welcome to the whorehouse, I don’t know what does. We will bend over backwards (or anyway you like it) for your business. Workers’ rights? What workers rights? Treat `em however you want. Smack `em around, a bit of the rough stuff. We’ll turn a blind eye. And if they want to complain about your behaviour, they’ll have to talk to you first before we’ll even pretend to listen to their whining.

Stop and think about that for a moment. When (not if) this bill becomes law workers in this province will first to have to “confront” their employers if they feel that they have money owed them for overtime, vacation pay or just plain old wages. Or if they feel working conditions aren’t up to snuff. Employers as the first line of defense against exploitation of employees. Yeah, uh, Mr. Fox? We’d really appreciate it if you would stop stealing all our eggs.

According to an article in Tuesday’s Toronto Star, the government claims that the “… changes are part of the province’s employment standards modernization strategy to reduce the 14,000 workers’ claims in backlog.” It’s almost as if the government is blaming the workers for creating the backlog. If they would just stop complaining, there wouldn’t be a backlog.

Am I wrong in assuming that if an employee has issues about unpaid wages or poor working conditions that they’d probably approach their employers first, asking to have the problem fixed, and ended up going to the government for redress only as a last resort? The backlog exists because worker exploitation is more pervasive than we might care to admit here in 21st-century Ontario? Putting the onus on workers to demand their rights and protections will do little to alleviate the problem — except on the official paperwork, where a similar law enacted by a similarly Liberal in name only government in B.C. saw workers’ complaints drop by 46%. Huzzah! Problem solved.

There is also another view about what created the backlog here in Ontario. In the Star article, Parkdale Community Legal Services’ Mary Gellatly said that back in 2006 the province closed claims-intake offices and squeezed enforcement resources. Ahh! There’s your old neoliberal economic system at work. Kneecap an agency or ministry by cutting money and personnel to the point where it can’t function properly and then use it as an example of government not working. See? Circular logic bringing about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It is straight out of the play book of the master, Grover Norquist, president of the lobby group Americans For Tax Reform. “I don’t want to abolish government,” he’s been quoted as saying. “I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

The mantra of neo-conservative/liberals everywhere. Killing government. Dalton McGuinty is clearly part of the vigilante group, intent on diminishing the role governments play in our lives and filling the void with free market fundamentals and taking the handcuffs from the Invisible Hand, blind to the damage it inflicts when left to its own devices.

The Common Sense Revolution did not end in 2003. Its ill-effects aren’t merely reverberating here in the cities, towns, schools and workplaces of Ontario. They are being perpetuated by a different gang under a different flag but with the same indifference and antagonism to the idea of good government. Don’t let the red tie fool you into thinking otherwise.

dispiritedly submitted by Cityslikr