Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dalton McGuinty and the legacy of inequility. . . .

The prorogation of of the Ontario parliament yesterday by Dalton McGuinty was probably not unconstitutional  the way Stephen Harper's was. Harper's act of prorogation violated the British parliamentary traditions because he shut down parliament specifically to avoid losing power with an impending confidence vote that he knew we was going to lose and a power sharing arrangement already made between opposition parties. McGuinty, on the other hand, was not facing a vote of confidence, and one could say that, at least technically, he still had the 'confidence' of the House, The opposition parties would not have pushed to bring down the Government this fall because a) they didn't want an election so soon and b)they had a good reason to keep the Liberal Party in power until they could suck as much possible political currency as they could out of the present Liberal scandal concerning the moving of two power plants.

All that being said, McGuinty's prorogation of parliament was arguably immoral in its political expediency. But the idea that Mr. McGuinty would act immorally should certainly not come as a surprise to anyone, and I am not sure that most political leaders would not have done the same thing. McGuinty is attempting to save his party from decimation in the next election by shutting down investigations into his party's scandals before the next election and give his party free time to choose another leader.

So it goes.

But it is not these things that really trouble me about the spectacular fall of Dalton McGuinty. Governments always fall into some degree of scandal after years in power, We have come to expect it. Whether a government survives its scandals depends upon the depth of the malfeasance and their ability to manage it. However what seems certain, and is demonstrated over and over again is that as a government loses control and begins to crash and burn, it looks around desperately for a scapegoat. And time and again that scapegoat is, of course, public servants. Dalton McGuinty and his Liberal Party cronies failed utterly to make any real efforts to save Ontario's manufacturing base. It was, admittedly  a difficult task and they got no help from the Federal government. But the Liberal also failed to promote new kinds of economic growth in Ontario and the few efforts that they did make (such as investments in wind power) were quickly mired in avoidable controversy. And so, in light of their failures, the Liberals did what so many governments seem to do - lay their own failures at the feet of the public servants and, wherever possible, the working-class. We live in a system of unprecedented wealth where the rich have never been richer, but Conservatives and Liberal everywhere attempt to divert attention away from the real roots of the structural economic and social inequalities and to suggest that the problem is simply that teachers are getting well paid and that is why we are in economic trouble. Conservatives and Liberals in this country will do almost anything to avoid a real discourse on economic and social inequalities, and instead they attempt to foster a discourse about the evils of decent wages and proper pensions.

But in the end, killing unions and ditching pensions mean only one thing for our future as a society; more poverty. Period. That is all there is to it.

Meanwhile there is little in the way of justice (even of the poetic variety) in seeing Dalton McGuinty fall from power as he engages in more unconstitutional attacks on the principles of collective bargaining. Because in their profound ignorance, the voters of Ontario will probably soon hand power to a guy who makes Dalton McGuinty look like a communist and a genius too boot. And who will suffer? The teachers, the healthcare workers, the scientists, the social workers, etc. And, most tragically, ALL of our children will suffer as the politicians further entrench the third-world style economic model of inequality and poverty.


thwap said...

I think the ONDP might actually have a chance. If enough Liberal zombies can get over their "fears" of the social-democratic policies the ONDP used to advocate for but which the present version of the party has long since abandoned.

Anonymous said...

Constitutional conventions are fluid, if viscous. Since PM Harper did prorogue Parliament in the circumstances that he did, that the GG approved, and that Parliament did not defeat his government on the next (or next several) occasion(s), the prorogation has now moved from being arguably unconstitutional to being de facto constitutional convention. The new normal, as it were. And so no legal difficulty for McGuinty. In the same way, omnibus legislation is growing in scope contrary to earlier usage, and yet becomes precedent for later Parliamentarians.

Though the moral burdens remain, as you point out.

kirbycairo said...

Thank you Anonymous . . . makes you wonder if a future government will have the courage to enshrine these things in actual written constitutional form.