Viewpoint: What’s next for Ontario?

Feb 5 • ViewpointNo Comments on Viewpoint: What’s next for Ontario?

It won’t be long before Ontarians find out just what premier designate Kathleen Wynne is made of.

She hasn’t taken office yet, but the pressure of winning the Liberal leadership is nothing compared to trying to please the more than 12 million Ontarians who in large measure feel overtaxed, under represented, and a nudge away from fiscal disaster.

Although Wynne wasn’t known to most people outside the Liberal party, she shouldn’t be underestimated. She went into a six-person leadership race and emerged from the guerrilla warfare that is convention politics with a win, leaving frontrunner Sandra Puppatello doing her best version of “the sun will come out tomorrow” before scurrying back to Bay Street.

The fact that Wynne’s the first openly gay premier is a non issue because anyone opposed to her sexual orientation won’t vote for her no matter what, while those that don’t care will judge her on performance.

Wynne’s perceived strength seems to be her willingness to compromise. She’s working with NDP leader Andrea Horvath, however, Tim Hudak’s PCs immediately fired off a cookie cutter attack ad which accused Wynne of being responsible for everything but the Halifax explosion.

Given the public’s growing distaste for juvenile tactics, it might serve Hudak well to at least let Wynne fail at something before burning her at the stake.

A former mediator, Wynne should waste no time in cleaning up the dysfunctional arbitration legislation as it applies to Ontario’s public employees.

It’s a broken system in which arbitrators aren’t even compelled to consider whether the employer has the ability to pay the funds ordered by the arbitrator.

The growth of regionalization and use of arbitrators places unions representing public employees at a distinct advantage knowing in many circumstances they have arbitrators in their back pockets willing to dole out Toronto-size wages which must be paid by communities such as Chatham-Kent that lack the resources to do so.

This isn’t a new issue. When the Wallaceburg Police Services board attempted to reign in costs nearly 20 years ago, members Ron Tack, Jeff Wesley, Max Heath and Wendy Murru were removed from office for not adhering to the Police Services Act.

It’s as close to taxation without representation as we can get. It needs to be changed now.
Hudak’s PCs have brought forth an Ability To Pay Act which addresses many of the problems. Wynne would be well advised to take a long look at the plan.

If Wynne has the guts to tackle an issue in her own back yard and Hudak has the sense to unclench his fist and offer a handshake, we may get something done.

There will be plenty of credit to go around once taxpayers see party leaders working for the province instead of acting like, well, like politicians.

Jim Blake

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