Christina Blizzard Toronto Sun
Politics is an extreme blood sport.
When things are good, they’re great. Politicians walk on air. They exude that golden glow of success. They can do no wrong.
When things are bad, it seems nothing can pull them out of the slump. And right now, things are going very badly for Premier Dalton McGuinty.
First, there was the scholarship story from Hong Kong.
The government will spend $30 million — $20 million from taxpayers and $10 million from universities — to give full $40,000-a-year scholarships to 75 foreign doctoral students.
To add insult to injury, Training, Colleges and Universities Minister John Milloy defended the scholarships by saying the government wants to “strengthen that system by attracting the best and the brightest.”
Well, hello. Don’t we have the best and brightest homegrown talent here in Ontario?
Tell parents struggling to pay tuition bills they now have to pay for the “best and brightest” to come in from overseas and show us how its done, and you’ll get outrage.
McGuinty also got the bad news that the government’s pay freeze has hit a roadblock. An independent arbitrator has awarded 2% a year pay raises for the next two years to nurses and other unionized hospital workers.
McGuinty balked at telling reporters he’d bring in a law mandating a wage freeze.
He said his government wouldn’t give money to the hospitals to pay the bill.
“Our interest is to ensure the taxpayers aren’t paying any more — and they won’t,” he said. The government won’t give the hospitals more money to deal with the pay hike.
So how are supposed to hold the line? Close beds? Shut operating rooms? Layoff nurses?
McGuinty’s been in power seven years and never seen a public sector union he wouldn’t cave in to. He stands up timidly in his budget and freezes all the non-union government salaries.
But when the going gets tough with the unions, he’s a pushover. It’s not his problem. Let the hospitals do the dirty work.
Meanwhile, Tory Leader Tim Hudak revealed an embarrassing document put together by Sussex Strategy group — a lobbying company — advising clients that renewable energy is anticipated “to be a wedge issue in the election.”
The document says the Tories will support a move away from renewables, so the industry needs to rally support for green energy.
“In this, it will be critical to ‘confuse’ the issue in the political/public/media away from just price to include key value attributes such as jobs, clean air, farm income, etc.”
So, we’re all so stupid, we can be “confused” by slick bafflegab to believe high hydro prices are good for us?
You wonder how much their clients paid for this crap.
Ironically, McGuinty’s news conference was at the site of a planned solar panel factory in Hamilton — with locked out Stelco workers picketing outside.
Sussex huffily responded to the leak: “The document released today was a proposal to a coalition of interests to engage the public in a balanced and broader debate that includes the many benefits of renewable energy and not just about price,” the company said in a statement.
And here I was thinking the idea was to confuse we buffoons in the media and the public.
McGuinty’s well-oiled election express is off the tracks.
It’s starting to look more like a gravy train — and the oil is turning to grease.