August 21, 2012 - No. 45
Stand with Ontario's Teachers and
Public Education Yes! Privatization and
Teachers and Education Workers!
• Public Education Yes! Privatization and
• Government Recalls Legislature -
• Use of Prerogative Powers to Impose
"Roadmap" - Enver Villamizar
• Education Minister's Hooligan Behaviour
- Sylvia Etts
• Windsor Action Forces McGuinty Out the Back
For Your Information
• Summary of "Putting Students First Act"
• Strike Vote Requires College Faculty to Be
Political - Christine Nugent
The Need to Defeat
Both the Liberals and PC's in Kitchener-Waterloo By-Election
• Why Justice for Injured Workers Is an Issue
in the Kitchener-Waterloo By-Election - Rob Woodhouse
• Injured Workers in Action to Demand Justice
• McGuinty Throws Hundreds of Millions of
Election Dollars Towards P3 Highway 7 Expansion
Stand with Ontario's Teachers and
Public Education Yes! Privatization and Dictate No!
Ontario Political Forum denounces the draft
legislation the McGuinty government plans to introduce against teachers
and education workers when the Legislature re-convenes on August 27.
In the style of George W. Bush with his No Child
Left Behind Act and the Harper government that introduces attacks
on fundamental rights in the name of protecting individual rights, the
legislation is called the Putting Students First Act. It
invokes the provincial deficit,
which it claims has given rise to "exceptional and temporary"
circumstances that require the government to defend the "public
interest" through the imposition of a two year period of restraint
beginning September 1, 2012. The Act would permit the "restraint
period" to be extended for a third year
by the Minister of Education. It would apply to unionized and
non-unionized employees of publicly funded boards of education and
schools operated under provincial authority such as schools for the
deaf and the blind.
During this "restraint period" the government would give
itself broad powers to impose wages and working conditions in line with
"fiscal constraints" announced in its 2012 austerity budget and prevent
any mechanism under labour law or other laws relating to employment and
human rights from
upholding the rights of teachers and other school board employees, or
holding the government to account for its violations of such rights.
The Act essentially suspends collective bargaining rights and
prohibits strikes and lockouts during the "restraint period." Given
the period of restraint
can be extended by Ministerial Order it makes this period of exception
the norm in Ontario, likely setting the stage for similar measures to
be imposed on the entire public sector.
To distance himself from the PCs, McGuinty says that the
legislation represents a "balanced" approach. This is all to cover up
that both parties have the same anti-social aim: undermine the rights
of workers to decide their own future and steal billions from social
programs in order to pay the monopolies in the
form of debt and deficit financing and direct payouts.
McGuinty is trying to overwhelm teachers and education
workers; first by appointing retired Justice James Farley with no
background in education to head the government's negotiating team, then
pressuring unions to sign deals based on threats of legislation and
then pitting unions against one another, trying to
divide teachers and education workers between young from old. It is now
recalling the legislature early and tabling legislation. What kind of
government does such things to its own people?
Teachers and education workers are considering how to
respond. Already plans are being made for a rally at Queen's Park on
August 27 as the Legislature opens.
Ontario Political Forum calls on everyone to
stand shoulder to shoulder with teachers and education workers against
attempts to eliminate their right to decide their future!
Government Recalls Legislature
The Government of Ontario announced on August 20 that it
was recalling the legislature two weeks early to introduce
legislation that, if passed, will impose a two-year period of restraint
on teachers and education workers. The Legislature will convene on
Monday August 27.
The government's statement presented by House Leader
argues that the legislation is necessary to protect gains in education.
In doing so, it overtly pits parents and their children against
"Now, as parents start
preparing for the upcoming school
year, they need the certainty of knowing that their children will have
a full school year, free from labour disruptions. And they need to know
that the government will take the necessary steps to protect the gains
that we have made in education."
"We've been working with our partners in education for
almost six months to reach agreements. In less than two weeks,
teachers' contracts will expire and roll over, leading to automatic
increases in wages of up to 5.5 per cent and two million more bankable
sick days that can be cashed out at retirement. Taxpayers
can't afford that."
It is another disturbing
indication of the divisiveness that the government has already created
among teachers -- such between younger and older teachers -- which it
attempting to do amongst other collectives. The government is shutting
out the right of teachers and education workers to have a say and, in
is characterizing them as being against the public good. Is this any
way for a government, which itself is responsible for assuring the
good, to act?
The government statement also once again attempts to pit
McGuinty's so-called "middle of the road" approach compared to the
opposition parties which is characteristic of the factionalism that
divides the polity during elections:
"So far, the NDP have demonstrated that they can't say
no to unions including one union that has spent a total of one hour at
the bargaining table. The PCs want to fire teachers and declare war on
them again. We are calling on the PCs and the NDP to step up and
support a fair and balanced approach to ensuring
stability in schools."
Another noteworthy aspect of the statement is the
government's description of the legislature that is characteristic of
Harper's "dysfunctional" description of parliament that he used to
justify his need for a majority government:
"As you saw in the spring, legislation moves through a
minority parliament as slow as molasses The opposition parties have
allowed just three bills to pass over four months of legislative
sittings We need the Opposition parties to put politics aside, as well
as the delay tactics and game-playing that lasted all spring."
McGuinty is counting on the September 6 by-elections in
Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan to give legitimacy to his agenda,
failing this he is suggesting that he requires a mandate through a
general election in the province. Regardless of which one, McGuinty's
"roadmap for education" is a clear sign of his intentions for the
entire province and it must be opposed on all fronts.
Use of Prerogative Powers to Impose "Roadmap"
On August 14, Ontario Minister of Education Laurel
Broten announced that she is using her prerogative powers as Minister
of Education to impose provisions of the McGuinty government's
"roadmap" for education on the entire education sector in Ontario.
Under the guise of helping "younger teachers," Broten
announced that she is bringing in regulations to "ensure that fair
hiring practices are applied in every school board across the province"
and to limit "retired teachers to 50 supply teaching days per year,
down from 95 -- starting in September when school resumes."
The first regulation refers
to measures that would require local school boards to hire teachers
from a pool of occasional or supply teachers based on seniority, both
for long-term supply positions (e.g., replacing someone on maternity
leave, or other extended leave) as well as for full time positions. The
refers to limiting the number of supply days for retired teachers to
50. The government is claiming this limit will help younger teachers on
supply lists get work. This second regulation, according to the
Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), had been agreed to
by the government and the Ontario Teachers'
Federation (OTF) well before Laurel Broten was Minister of Education.
The government's talk about
concern for younger teachers
is ridiculous. It is meant to try and divide younger teachers from
retirees. Many unions have tried to negotiate such provisions for
occasional or supply teachers into their collective agreements in the
past and the McGuinty government did not impose them;
so why now? The opportunism of the McGuinty government is such that
they are now deliberately using something that many unions have been
fighting for in order to try and divide younger and older workers so as
to create a wedge in order to impose a broad violation of collective
bargaining rights. McGuinty
and his ilk could care less about transparency in hiring practices, or
security for workers. This is clear when one considers that they have
no problem with nepotism or lack of transparency when it comes to
handing out government bailouts or P3 contracts to the monopolies.
The anti-democratic spirit of these regulations is made
even more clear as Broten used their introduction as another
opportunity to try and threaten teachers, education workers and local
school boards to give up their right to local collective bargaining.
"After six months of hard work, we've reached agreements
with more than half of the teachers in Ontario.
Now we need our school boards to step up and reach deals by Aug. 31.
Time is short, but it can be done. After Aug. 31, current agreements
will roll over, giving many teachers a 5.5 per cent pay raise
and the accumulation of two million more sick days that could be cashed
out at retirement, at a cost of $473 million. If school board trustees
are unwilling or unable to negotiate and sign local agreements before
Aug. 31, our government is prepared to introduce legislation."
And of course, just to try and cover up this violation
of rights even further, Broten presents her Liberal government's
attacks as a "balanced measure" creating the threat of two extremes:
"The Hudak PCs want to cancel full-day kindergarten and fire thousands
of teachers -- they'd take us back to the days of school
closures, strikes and lost school days. The Horwath NDP support a huge,
unsustainable pay hike for teachers and they can't be trusted as
partners in the legislature -- twice they were caught trying to go back
on deals we reached so we can balance the budget and grow our economy
and create jobs."
1. Contrary to government
claims, according to the ETFO, the current signatories to the
government's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (OECTA and AEFO)
collectively represent 45,217 teachers. There remain over 93,000
teachers, and tens of thousands of support staff, whose unions have not
the MOU. In addition, the 10,000 AEFO members have yet to hold
membership votes to ratify the MOU.
Education Minister's Hooligan Behaviour
On August 10, Education Minister Laurel Broten sent a
personal email to some 660 school board trustees the press reports. In
gangster fashion she pressured these elected school trustees to sign
deals with their local unions by September 1 or face paying millions of
dollars in extra wages from their boards' coffers. This is a clear
statement that if the contracts do roll over there will be no funds
coming from the McGuinty government to honour this contract language.
"I just think the memo is so inappropriate and so
inflammatory," said Janet McDougald, longtime chair of the Peel
District School Board, who said that she has never in her 24 years as a
trustee received such correspondence from a minister.
Broten's letter tells each trustee how much their board
will have to pay in wage increases if they do not pass a proposed deal
that freezes all but new teachers where they are on the salary grid.
The Toronto public board faces cuts in funds of nearly $12.5 million
and Peel nearly $9 million.
Trustees at the Halton District School Board have said
they can't get an agreement by the end of the month and have scheduled
negotiations from August to November. "It's really unfortunate that
it's not everybody working together anymore -- or it doesn't feel that
way," said chair Don Vrooman. "She's pushed
the boards and the unions away from the dock."
Lori Lukinuk of the Ontario Public School Boards'
Association (OPSBA) said boards want to bargain with their union
locals, fairly and in good faith. "What we are having difficulty with
is that she's saying, ‘Go away and have discussions locally with union
groups,' but it really sounds like she's saying ‘sign
on the bottom line.' That's not really negotiating."
Windsor Action Forces McGuinty Out the Back Door
As part of the McGuinty-Hudak, "good cop/bad cop"
anti-worker tag team touring Ontario, on August 9, Ontario Premier
Dalton McGuinty traveled to Windsor for a photo-op at a newly-built
elementary school. His visit came just one day after dropping the writ
for the by-elections in Kitchener-Waterloo and
Vaughan. Despite the visit being announced at the last minute with
timelines deliberately aimed at preventing any display of opposition
and despite a massive downpour, a spirited action of education workers
took place outside the school.
McGuinty toured Dr. David Suzuki School along with
Finance Minister and Windsor-Tecumseh MPP, Dwight Duncan. The school
was built to showcase energy sustainability and environmental
technologies in both its construction and operation. The use of the
school by McGuinty for the photo-op as the by-elections
begin, and on the same day as he announced an agreement with the
Association des enseignantes et enseignants franco-ontarien (AEFO) --
the union representing teachers in Ontario's French-language schools --
was a cheap attempt to try and associate investments and progress in
education with the McGuinty Liberals.
The problem however is that this attempted association was torn away as
McGuinty walked from his gas-guzzling black tinted SUV -- as if in a
war zone -- into the school, while the crowd made up of those who
ensure quality education loudly shouted "shame!"
Throughout the action, lively discussion took place
about how to build opposition to the McGuinty-Hudak campaign to violate
the rights of education workers to decide the wages and working
conditions they will accept. Of utmost concern to many was the clear
attempt to pressure provincial unions, one by one,
to accept agreements that violate local collective bargaining rights
and what must be done to stop this.
The utter contempt of McGuinty for the citizens of
Ontario was revealed to those gathered when, after waiting two hours in
the pouring rain to hold McGuinty to account for his government's
violation of workers rights, he snuck out a side door of the school;
while his SUV sat out front as a decoy. McGuinty
did not even inform the media that he was sneaking out, who were also
waiting to get a "photo-op" of him leaving with teachers opposing him
in the background.
For Your Information
Summary of Putting Students First Act
On August 16th Minister of Education Laurel Broten
announced that the McGuinty government will table the Putting
Students First Act. The
draft legislation was released to teachers’ and education workers’
unions the same day. It is being tabled as 18 of the province’s 21
which represent teachers and education workers have not signed onto the
government’s provincial parameters. Most of those who have yet to sign
are currently engaged in local bargaining, or will begin shortly. It
also takes place as the associations representing public and Catholic
school boards have
also opposed the government’s imposition of its parameters. For your
information Ontario Political Forum is providing a summary of
some of the Legislation’s most significant aspects.
Imposition of Government Parameters for Local
a period of “restraint” new powers are given to the Minister of
Education in the draft legislation to impose collective agreements on
teachers' and education workers' unions and locally elected boards of
education. The legislation does this by dictating the provisions and
parameters ("required terms") which collective agreements must contain,
using the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the government and
OECTA as a template. Other MOUs would be permitted only if they contain
terms that are "substantially similar in all relevant respects to the
terms in the OECTA MOU." These terms include: a wage freeze during the
restraint period, a 1.5 % pay cut for teachers in the form of three
unpaid days, elimination of banked sick leave credits and retirement
gratuities for payment
of unused sick days, a restructured short-term sick leave plan, a
restructured salary grid and provision of more autonomy for teachers in
applying diagnostic assessments.
The Act declares that any provisions in a
agreement which contradict the terms established by the government will
become "inoperative” and that any strikes, lock-outs or conciliation
will be illegal during the period of restraint.
Locally elected school boards must submit
a compliance report signed by the board's director of education for the
Minister to review, showing how they are complying with the terms
stipulated in the legislation. This means that local school board
directors will now
be accountable directly to the Minister of Education, rather than to
their elected board.
The Act gives the Minister the powers to
Lieutenant Governor to impose an employment contract, prohibit a strike
and prohibit “counselling, procuring, supporting or encouraging a
strike.” This suggests that even the holding of a strike vote during
the restraint period
would be prohibited.
The Act permits the Lieutenant Governor to
order to direct an end to a strike or lock-out, direct employees to
return to work and direct a board to resume operations.
The Act also has provisions for its parameters
applied retroactively and for compensation any employee(s) might have
received in excess of the required terms to be clawed back.
The legislation states that the Labour Relations
Act and the Ontario Labour Relations Board cannot be
used to challenge any provisions of the Act, nor can the Ontario Human
Rights Code, Employment Standards Act,
Constitution. It specifically states that any review of the Act,
regulations or decisions under the act by the Ontario Labour Relations
Board or an arbitrator as to their constitutionality or conflict with
the Human Rights Code is prohibited.
The Act outlines that none of its measures can
questioned or reviewed by a court, and there can be no steps to have a
court question or review anything prescribed or initiated under the Act.
No cause of action or civil proceedings can be brought
Crown, Executive or employees of the Executive as a result of an order
made by the Minister. This will also be made retroactive. Any
proceedings already underway which would limit the Act will be deemed
to be dismissed.
In addition, no boards or unions or any officers,
agents acting on behalf of a board or union can have action taken
against them for operating "in good faith."
The Act would permit the Lieutenant
Governor in Council to regulate, among other things, the hiring
processes boards must follow for teachers, as well as the use of
diagnostic assessments of students. The list of different areas subject
to government regulation
under the Act is concluded with a reference to "any matter necessary or
advisable to effectively carry out the intent and purpose of this Act."
For a full copy of the draft legislation click here.
College Faculty Negotiations
Strike Vote Requires College Faculty to Be Political
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
reported on August 16 that it had asked the Ontario Labour Relations
Board to schedule a strike vote for September 6, 2012. The strike vote,
according to OPSEU, is a measure to pressure the colleges to negotiate
in good faith with college faculty, something
that they until now have failed to do.
The announcement of the strike mandate vote comes in the
midst of legislation passed by the McGuinty Liberal government on
August 18 which seeks to impose a two-year period of restraint on
teachers and education workers that can at any time be extended by the
Minister of Education. The government has
called back the Legislature to pass the bill which also contains
measures to ban strikes. It includes broad powers to eliminate all
collective bargaining rights. The government has already warned that
such action may also be necessary for all broader public sector
workers, including college faculty. It is a continuation
of imposed conditions that college faculty know all too well from the
last round of "negotiations." Is this what the government has in store
again for college faculty? What to do in this situation remains a key
concern for college faculty.
The strike mandate vote is scheduled to take place the
same day that by-elections will be held in Kitchener-Waterloo and
Vaughan. Although the by-elections will take place in specific areas of
Ontario, they are a concern for all workers and people in the province.
The by-elections are being used by the McGuinty
government as a way to legitimize their so-called "middle of the road"
approach compared to Hudak's opposition Progressive Conservative's
"right-wing" approach. Hudak is calling for a wage freeze for all
broader public sector workers. But people's direct experiences are
showing them that both represent the neo-liberal
agenda to smash workers' resistance and organization.
College faculty should pay attention to the by-elections
and discuss how they can intervene in them on a political basis. They
should together call for the defeat of parties that currently lead the
anti-social offensive so that their interests in this round of
negotiations are defended. This is a new way to deal with
the deterioration of collective bargaining that is eliminating the
space to defend their rights. Waiting for collective bargaining to
defend their interests is clearly not going to happen. Only by taking
up their own politics will new conditions be developed in their
The Need to Defeat Both the
Liberals and PC's in Kitchener-Waterloo By-Election
Why Justice for Injured Workers Is an Issue in the
Ontario's injured workers and their supporters are using
the by-election to hold the politicians of both the ruling Liberal
Party and the Official Opposition Progressive Conservative (PC) Party
to account for their attempts to destroy the workers' compensation
system. Injured workers are calling on the electorate to stand with
them in demanding justice for injured workers.
Ontario's 400,000 injured workers are spread through
every region of the province but there are very specific reasons work
is being concentrated in K-W. Raising the issue of justice for injured
workers in the K-W by-election has been taken up because this
by-election is part of a deliberate and provocative attack
on injured workers by the McGuinty Liberal government. This attack
centres around the decision of Premier McGuinty to appoint Elizabeth
Witmer, the former PC Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for K-W, as
the Chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
The need for a by-election
in K-W came as a result of an opportunistic and cynical deal the
McGuinty government made with Witmer. Witmer's resignation of her K-W
seat, provided the McGuinty Liberals a chance to get out of minority
government status in a by-election. To entice Witmer to resign, she was
offered a plum patronage appointment as the Chair of the Workplace
Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). To sweeten the deal, the WSIB Chair
salary was increased by $75,000 a year. Witmer will receive $188,000
annually on top of hundreds of thousands in pension and retirement
This kind of corrupt wheeling and dealing is business as
usual among self-serving politicians in Ontario. The rotten political
party system is built on such appointments to public institutions. This
particular appointment raises the questions: Why Elizabeth Witmer when
there were 36 other PC MPPs McGuinty
could have bought to gain a seat? Why a WSIB appointment when there are
thousands of other patronage appointments available? The appointment of
Witmer to WSIB was a very deliberate manoeuver by the McGuinty
The appointment in the first place is an insult to
injured workers and to all who stand for just treatment of workers
injured on the job. Injured workers consider Witmer, the Minister of
Labour in the Mike Harris PC government, the architect of Harris-era
changes to the workers' compensation system, which have
been a disaster for injured workers. But more importantly, the
appointment of Witmer is an attack on injured workers because of the
direction it shows the McGuinty government is heading in with workers'
compensation policy and the message the McGuinty government is sending
out by putting Witmer back in
charge at the WSIB.
Witmer's appointment is a signal to all employers in
Ontario from the McGuinty Liberals that the destruction of the system
for compensating injured workers begun by Harris-Witmer will be carried
through to the end by McGuinty-Witmer. It is a promise to the employers
that they will never have to pay just
compensation for the deaths and injuries they inflict on workers and
that injured workers will never be treated justly.
The Harris government reduced by 30 per cent the
assessments WSIB charges employers to fund benefits for injured
workers. This was done at a time when employer assessments needed to be
raised to cover the deficit the WSIB had accumulated through many years
of employer undercharging. Harris-Witmer
imposed harsh benefit cuts on injured workers to make up the WSIB's
reduced assessment rates and to reduce accumulated deficits. To justify
brutal benefit cuts, deeming and other fraudulent procedures were put
in place at the WSIB for criminalizing workers injured on the job
through no fault of their own. Also
during the Harris-Witmer years, the process was launched of converting
workers' compensation from a social program financed by a payroll tax
into a private insurance scheme.
In 2003 the McGuinty Liberals got into power by
advertising themselves as "more balanced" than Harris. But after nine
years in office none of the Harris attacks on injured workers or
converting workers' compensation into a private insurance scheme have
been reversed by the McGuinty Liberals. By putting
Witmer back in charge at the WSIB, McGuinty is reassuring employers
that his government will continue to follow the Harris agenda of
destroying the workers' compensation system. The McGuinty Liberals are
assuring the rich that their party's self-branding as having a "more
balanced" approach than the PCs is
just political spin. McGuinty's appointment of Witmer to the WSIB made
workers' compensation an issue in the K-W by-election.
The PCs for their part are also making the WSIB an issue
in both the by-election in K-W and the one called for Vaughan. They are
advertising the by-elections as a referendum on their recently released
"White Paper" on labour relations. Included in their anti-worker,
anti-union policy is a proposal for the wholesale
handover of workers' compensation to private insurance companies as has
been done in some American states. The PCs, in competition with the
Liberals to represent the rich minority with political power, are
advocating that it's time to drop the "balance" fraud and wage the war
on workers openly, including increased
attacks on injured workers.
Injured workers' exposure of the shameful treatment they
have received from both the current Liberal government and the previous
Progressive Conservative government is an important intervention in the
K-W by-election. They are showing the electorate that the Liberals and
PCs are following the same anti-social
anti-human agenda no matter in what rhetoric they dress themselves up.
The experience of injured workers with the Liberals and
the PCs also informs other workers that, at a time when the PCs are
stepping up their hysterical anti-worker rhetoric, there is no
protection in McGuinty's fraudulent promises about "balance." The
Liberals and the PCs are both political assets of the rich
minority with political power. These parties, whether the party in
power or the official opposition, are a tag team used by the rich
minority to steadily ratchet down the living conditions of working
people. The K-W by-election is an opportunity to call these politicians
Injured Workers in Action to Demand Justice
The Justice for Injured Workers
newspaper produced by the Ontario Network of Injured Workers' Groups.
To get a copy, email: email@example.com.
The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Group is seeking
to end the marginalization of injured workers by contributing to the
writing, publishing and dissemination of a newspaper entitled Justice for Injured Workers that
illustrates the struggles for their rights. The publication is much
needed given the experiences
of injured workers in Ontario and throughout Canada. Since the
development of the original Workers' Compensation Board in Ontario in
1914, the rights of injured workers have been deteriorated by
governments to the benefit of employers. The monopoly media has played
its part by spreading disinformation about
injured workers' just claims. Justice
for Injured Workers is a
contribution to end the marginalization and de- politicization of
injured workers and to demand the recognition of the rights of all.
The newspaper contains a series of articles that make it
clear that employers do not want to recognize their responsibility for
workplace injuries and that governments, despite the supposed
independent status of the original Workers' Compensation Board, have
acted in the interests of employers to make sure that
they hold little to no financial, legal or social responsibility for
injured workers. The denial of compensation rights for workers in
certain industries, manipulation of policies and reports, the refusal
to recognize public reviews, lack of full cost of living adjustments
and the use of the old cliché of financial crisis have
deteriorated compensation for injured workers. These issues are taken
up for discussion in the newspaper.
Injured workers are in action to demand justice by
distributing the newspaper throughout the province. They are especially
focusing on the Kitchener-Waterloo area where an upcoming by-election
is being held after long-time Progressive Conservative MPP Elizabeth
Witmer was appointed by Premier McGuinty as new chairperson for the
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Witmer is well-known to
injured workers as the labour minister under the Mike Harris government
many retrogressions for the WSIB and therefore in the lives of injured
workers. The McGuinty government has done nothing to change this
situation and its appointment of Witmer is an indication that more
retrogression is planned for injured workers. Injured workers are
saying that enough is enough and that justice
must be served.
Injured workers are uniting with other workers in
different sectors of the economy to distribute the paper and develop
their own independent political opposition to political parties that
refuse to defend their rights. They are among the many people in our
society today that are marginalized because their real life
situations that should be addressed with dignity go against the narrow
interests of employers. The publication serves to end this
marginalization and demand that governments meet their obligations to
uphold public right. The publication also demonstrates that people can
empower themselves by setting their own agenda
and working to realize it.
McGuinty Throws Hundreds of Millions of Election
Dollars Towards P3 Highway 7 Expansion
On Friday, August 12, a few days
after he had announced
the September 6 by-elections in Kitchener-Waterloo riding, Ontario
Premier Dalton McGuinty held out what amounts to a bribe and a form of
electoral corruption at his meeting with the editorial board of the Kitchener-Waterloo
announced that he is "giving" the city the promise of expanding highway
7 linking Guelph and Kitchener. This is the modus operandi of political
leaders of the political parties of the rich - to give out money for
projects to win votes, as Jean Charest is doing in Quebec. That
McGuinty has the gall to say that he is
"giving" this project to Kitchener reveals his arrogance -- that the
money is his to give and he is giving the money after thinking "long
and hard." This project was not one slated by the Liberals in the
current fiscal period and thus the announcement is clearly
opportunistic and self-serving.
The expansion of the 18 kilometre highway is projected
to start in 2015 and will take five years to complete. Talk of
expanding Highway 7 has been going on since 1989 during the tenure of
the Harris Conservative government. The Liberals promised to undertake
the expansion in 2007 at a cost of $300 million,
but shelved the project citing the global financial crisis a year
later. It was not revealed by the government what the estimated cost of
the project will be in 2012, but the Ontario Ministry of Transportation
has already allocated $50 million for "acquiring properties" for the
proposed expansion. The Ministry website
also notes "that Highway 7 is a good candidate for procurement using
Infrastructure Ontario's Alternative Financing and Procurement model,
which would help ensure the project is delivered on time and on budget.
Ontario continues to press the federal government for a contribution to
this important regional transportation
corridor and has applied to the P3 Canada Fund." In other words this
will be a P3 project that will guarantee a lucrative profit for some
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