McGuinty, goodbye and good riddance
By Ryan Sparrow
Well, that was unexpected. Premier Dalton McGuinty resigns. On the surface, this seems like a moment to celebrate. However, in perhaps his last act as premier, McGuinty has prorogued the legislative assembly. Remember that undemocratic thing that Harper did? Well, McGuinty just did it, too. Before we get into why he abolished our democracy, let us reminisce on his reign.
McGuinty was made famous for breaking his promises. For instance, he promised to freeze tuition fees for students, which he broke in 2005 by allowing tuition fees to increase above inflation. Now, Ontario has the ominous distinction of having the highest tuition fees in Canada, the largest class sizes and the lowest-per student funding. Since 2006, tuition fees have increased by up to 71 per cent. If this was not bad enough, the plan is to make it worse; average tuition fees are expected to exceed $9,200 in the 2015-2016 academic year according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, alongside further deep cuts to post-secondary education.
His corporate tax cuts last year seemed to mock students even more. The amount of annual revenue cut in these taxes amounted to $2.4 billion, the exact same amount that would have provided for free post-secondary education to every last Ontario student. Not just that, but with a record deficit, and a corporate tax rate of 11.3 per cent compared to 35 per cent in the United States. It seems clear that Ontario is trying to earn the distinction of the land for corporate interests.
McGuinty also brought us the much hated HST, a regressive tax that makes regular working class people pay more taxes, while taking the burden off of businesses. In other words, the taxes paid by corporations are now paid by everyday Ontarians.
McGuinty, perhaps not satisfied with making poor and working class families pay more than their fair share of taxes, has aggressively cut social programs such as Ontario Works. In one of his election promises, his party said they would raise the rates of Ontario Works, then once elected only raised the rates by like $6/month. Perhaps the aim was to break his promise of reducing child poverty faster than all his other broken promises.
We also cannot forget about the corruption. One of many examples is the ORNGE scandal, the air ambulance service that lined the pockets of its CEO and other executives showcased the cronyism of McGuinty’s government. Currently it is under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police over financial irregularities. ORNGE received a billion dollars from the province over the past five years with absolutely no government oversight into how that money was being spent. It turns out the money, our money, was used to establish private for-profit businesses that provided lavish salaries and benefits for its executives.
But as of late, our dear McGuinty decided to focus his energy towards attacking the public sector. This is not to say that this is something new, rather it’s renewed. This attack started against some of his former supporters - teachers - by legislating away their rights. I do not know why teachers naively supported the Liberals in the past. It is clear they do not anymore. This August, I had the fortunate chance to witness the anger of teachers - 25,000 strong - against the Hudak-McGuinty plan to take away their rights.
While teachers were not the only workers McGuinty attacked, their backlash is swift and well deserved. After offering a patronage position to the conservative MPP in the Kitchener-Waterloo riding to trigger a by-election, the party lost dramatically and voters replaced the conservative MPP with an NDP MPP in part due to backlash of teachers. Perhaps this vain democracy is too messy for McGuinty, so he does away with it as we do away with McGuinty. Goodbye McGuinty, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.
The rest of Ontario, let’s fight to get our democracy back.