Wynne proves her talk is cheap
Premier Kathleen Wynne answers questions during an AMA on Reddit Tuesday February 11, 2014. (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)
To appear hip, I guess, Premier Kathleen Wynne offered to answer anything Tuesday — even “tough” questions — on the interactive website Reddit.
It was the first anniversary of her rise to power and Ontario’s first lesbian premier decided to even throw caution to the wind by mentioning in her introduction to Redditors that she’s lived with her “partner” Jane (Rounthwaite) in north Toronto for 25 years.
I knew then and there the talk about answering anything was just that — talk — considering she married Ms. Rounthwaite in 2005 and still can’t bring herself to call her a wife.
After living in the closet for 20 years, I am prepared to shout from the rooftops that the woman I married in a traditional Jewish ceremony in 2009 is my wife.
But then I’m not trying to buy votes.
Even though it is reportedly their preference to call each other a partner, not wife, I am thrilled that we have our first openly gay premier.
That’s about where my positive feelings about Ms. Wynne begin and end.
Whether she has actually spent her first year distancing herself in a positive way from the sad legacy of her predecessor Dalton McGuinty and doing the right thing to tackle Ontario’s faltering economy is another story.
The fact that she can yap constantly about being open, transparent and accessible — even striking a panel to create a more transparent government — and deliberately ignore the slightest controversial question on Reddit while spewing highly stage-managed answers, proves her talk is very cheap indeed.
But what the Reddit chat did prove is that far more people than Wynne and her lacklustre team care to admit get it that public sector wages are out of control, that residents are being hit with staggering hydro rate hikes, that Ontario is deeply in debt, that new transit taxes and an Ontario pension plan would hurt growth in the economy and that like the gas plants fiasco, the Pan Am Games are going to be another Liberal boondoggle.
Ontarians are tired of hearing Ms. Wynne say she’s concerned and feels their pain.
What the past year has proven is that her only concern is with buying votes and staying in power — no matter the cost to taxpayers.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that her NDP partner-in-crime Andrea Horwath has certainly been complicit in enabling Wynne — although on most days it is hard to discern which leader is more left of centre.
Wynne, a leftist in Liberal clothing, couldn’t wait to abandon the few austerity measures McGuinty put in place to buy votes and union support.
She rushed to re-open the contracts with the high school teachers and elementary teachers unions last spring. That little exercise to buy labour peace (and important teacher union support) may have cost taxpayers as much $500 million.
But teachers aren’t the only ones Wynne tried to buy in the past year. Aside from assorted pay deals, there was the $1.4 billion for the Scarborough subway to ensure Mitzie Hunter a win in last August’s by-election and the $100-million she recently pledged to Niagara Falls to try to ensure her team a win in this Thursday’s byelection.
When she hasn’t been busy buying votes, Wynne has spent a very productive 12 months travelling around the province — visting 105 of 107 ridings — and trying desperately to distance herself whenever Liberal fiascos like the $1.1-billion gas plant and the Pan Am Games expense scandals came to light.
“I know nah-thing” became Wynne’s war cry, after offering a weak apology for the obscene amount of money tossed down the drain to move two gas plants in order to win Liberal seats and her perennial whimpers about being “deeply concerned.”
How fortuituous for her that the Mayor Rob Ford sideshow took the heat off of her regime’s pathetic record and the fact that she’s in way over her head, as are many of her cabinet ministers, most particularly her BFF health minister Deb Matthews.
Wynne also struck nearly 40 panels to give her advice on controversial policy decisions she, herself, doesn’t have the guts to make.
The best was the Transit Strategy Investment Advisory Panel headed by Anne Golden. That panel, which cost taxpayers $72,000, told us what we’d already heard ad nauseum — namely that taxes need to be raised to fund new transit infrastructure proposed by the Liberal white elephant, Metrolinx.
How she has the audacity to suggest new taxes is beyond me considering that during the past year she did nothing but take this province further down the road towards Greece and California.
I tune out her finance lapdog Charles Sousa now when he weaves his ridiculous fairy tales about balancing the books in 2017-18.
In fact, last November Wynne finally conceded what we’d already suspected — that she’s prepared to take the easy route by spending her way out of Ontario’s deficit-ridden troubles.
So pardon me if I was skeptical when she invited her Reddit audience Tuesday to “ask her anything” — even the “tough” questions.
You can ask but she isn’t prepared to say much but what’s in her script.
While there are too many missteps to mention, these themes emerged during Premier Kathleen Wynne’s first year in power:
1. Running for cover:
Whether it was the $1.1-billion gas plant fiasco, the Pan Am Games expense scandal or the child porn charges against her close confidante on the education file, Ben Levin, the premier has proven adept at trying to sweep her ties and her involvement with anything the least bit contentious under the rug.
2. Buying votes:
A Scarborough subway for $1.4-billion to ensure Mitzie Hunter wins a summer byelection? Done. Re-opening teacher contracts at a possible cost of $500 million to buy labour peace and shore up teacher union support? Done. Another $100 million in goodies for the Niagara Falls area to garner support in the Feb. 13 byelection? Done. There’s no group this premier won’t buy to stay in power.
3. Debt denial:
Proving she’s a tax and spendaholic at heart, Wynne recently admitted she’s prepared to abandon her party’s short-lived austerity agenda by spending her way out of Ontario’s deficit-ridden troubles (meaning right down the road to Greece).
4. Cutting on the backs of seniors:
They call it transforming the health-care system. But what Wynne, and her BFF Deb Matthews, have really done is to cut much needed services for vulnerable seniors like OHIP-funded diabetes strips and physiotherapy. Home care is still a mess.
How would you rate Kathleen Wynne’s first year as premier?
Call an election