Monthly Archives: May 2007

McGuinty Goes Hollywood

Yesterday, through Freedom of Information, the Hamilton Spectator reported on the extravagant and misleading use of government planes by Premier McGuinty and members of his government. Not surprising this dominated question period at Queen’s Park. While this is problematic on many fronts (the frivolity and extravagance of the flights, environmental concerns given the Liberal Party’s newfound passion for the environment, transparency to taxpayers…), at issue during question period was not necessarily the legitimacy of using the planes but one of disclosure and accountability.

It only seems reasonable and feasible that the logs from the premier’s and cabinet ministers’ flights be made openly public and not accessible only through the Freedom of Information Act. McGuinty kept insinuating that the information was available, but forcing the public to access it through the Freedom of Information Act is not in the best interest of government accountability. It was pretty clear the government did not want this information divulged.

But public tax treasury is being used and tax payers have a right to know how their money is being spent. Furthermore, if the government (now and in the future) knew that these logs would be open to public scrutiny, it might use the planes more prudently and not, for example, spend $10 000 flying to Hamilton when it likely would have been more expeditious to drive there. I think the opposition was making a very reasonable request, which not surprisingly was met once again with evasion ad stonewalling.

If you’ve been following Ontario politics in recent weeks…

this about says it all. Lest you think McGuinty buckling to demands to call in the auditor general will make the stench go away, think again. The auditor general, I predict, will return a scathing report of the Ontario Liberals, even if the shredding machines have been working overtime. Actually, the beauty of this scam was that no evidence need be destroyed since it was precisely the absence of a paper trail that enabled friends of the Liberals to benefit from the year end slush fund since only they knew about the fund.

Not that scathing independent reviews mean much to these Liberals (think of the David Caplan fiasco) who for the time being can do as they please, but it will cost in October.

Ontario Firefighters Ought to Thank NDP MPP Andrea Horwath

If Ontario’s firefighters are now able to seek more easily compensation for job related diseases, it is in large measure due to the tireless work and advocacy of NDP MPP Andrea Horwath. It was after all her private member’s bill that sought to make such compensation fairer by reversing the onus of proof away from the firefighters themselves. Instead certain diseases would be considered a presumptive part of their job for the purposes of worker’s compensation. Who knew Andrea Horwath was actually behind all of this? I’m guessing hardly anyone, and the Ontario Liberals quite like it that way. From Andrea’s Fall 2006 newsletter:

Horwath’s fire fighter bill endorsed by Ontario firefighters and chiefs

Ontario should lead not trail others in the campaign to ensure fire fighters receive compensation for their occupational diseases, says Hamilton East MPP Andrea Horwath. Horwath’s Bill 111 would ensure that Ontario fire fighters, like the ones who fought the Plastimet fire, receive hassle-free and automatic compensation if they develop any of 12 deadly diseases and cancers scientifically linked to their exposure to toxins on the job.Horwath’s effort to bring “presumptive legislation” to Ontario is supported by fire fighters, their families, Ontario fire chiefs, professional fire fighting associations province-wide and an ever-growing number of municipalities and editorial boards. It is named in memory of Hamilton Fire Fighter Capt. Bob Shaw, who battled the Plastimet inferno and died after developing cancer of the esophagus.

On October 5, Horwath’s bill passed unanimously after its historic Second Reading debate. Shaw’s son, Nathan, came to Queen’s Park with his mother to back Horwath’s push for changes to the way Ontario treats critically ill fire fighters. Hundreds across Ontario, including Bob Shaw, had their compensation claims for work-related illnesses such as cancer, leukemia and heart disease flatly denied by Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Horwath said. Of 463 such claims, the WSIB rejected roughly 300.

“My bill may finally spur some long overdue action. And this can pave the way for other workers who work with toxic materials and are seeking similar provisions,” Horwath said. Based on Ontario research from 1990, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia already recognize the relationship between exposure and firefighter deaths from cancers.

“After risking their lives and being made ill, fighting lengthy battles with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and being denied compensation is the ultimate indignity to firefighters and their families,” Horwath said. “I want the government to fast track this legislation and end the added suffering.”
Backers of Horwath’s quest for presumptive legislation include Fred LeBlanc, President of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association, Henry Watson, President of the Hamilton

While we should commend the non-partisanship shown in the legislature in the quick passage of this important bill, we should, nonetheless, be appalled that the Ontario Liberals have been shamelessly taking full credit for this legislation. I almost threw up today listening to an ad from McGuinty on CBC gushing on about how the Liberals are responsible for making sure firefighters know how much they are appreciated and this legislation is intended to recognize their vital role in our society.

It is indeed sickening that not once has McGuinty given any credit to Andrea Horwath for her role in introducing and helping to draft this legislation. On the day this bill passed third reading in Queen’s Park, firefighters lined the Liberal member’s gallery, but they were all ushered out before Ms Horwath could speak to the bill and thus they left not realizing to whom they truly should be thankful. Sadly, it remains that way. And while I’m sure Ms. Horwath sincerely meant it when she said that she hoped the Liberals would run with her bill, and that its passage would be the truly gratifying thing, I can’t help but think her face must still be stinging from the slap administered to her by the Ontario Liberals.
This government has no class and unfortunately no shame either.

Cherniak Nominates Himself for Blogger’s Choice Awards??

It appears our dear ‘ole Jason Cherniak has brazenly and tactlessly nominated himself in four categories over at the Blogger’s Choice Awards site. Those who have followed his blog have seen how wantonly narcissistic he can be, so it may not come as a surprise. Is it me or is this totally tawdry? I mean why not just get one of your friends to nominate you, unless…
And when I think of all the more deserving nominations for Best Political Blog, this kind of shameless self-promotion is just wrong, not to mention delusional.

Perhaps I should outline some reasons why Cherniak’s blog isn’t deserving of even a nomination. Of the numerous blogs that I read routinely, his is among the most spitefully partisan by far. It is not only entirely constituted by spin, but it is purely ideological. I mean by this that it is utterly chauvinistic. Confronted with criticism and shown to be wrong, Cherniak steadfastly maintains his ideological convictions such that even his rare retractions and “apologies” are themselves calculated. There is narcissitic self investment and then there is ideological chauvinism. Cherniak seems to be brimming with both.

Secondly, Cherniak’s blog is among the most mean spirited and disingenuous I’ve ever read. If he were a satirist, I’d not have the same misgivings, but he presents himself as a reasoned, sincere commentator on Canadian politics. But, underneath the elfin, jolly, earnest exterior is a disingenuous, opportunistic, win at all costs Kinsella wannabe. I first encountered Jason Cherniak when he attempted to spearhead a malicious and scurrilous attack on Emmanuel-Howard Park United Church minister, Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo (now the sitting MPP for Parkdale-High Park). I invite you to revisit those discussions to witness for yourselves the contortions, the willful misreading, the malice, the smugness, the spiteful determination exhibited by Cherniak. This is merely one example among many.

Lastly, the blog itself is of marginal quality and substance. There are far more incisive and intelligent pundits even in the blogosphere. There are also far more unique and interesting political blogs out there. I hope people seek out to nominate them as I have. Some may say that Jason Cherniak is finally leaving behind his model parliament days and playing real politics, but I hold out more hope for “politics” than that.

______________
Update: Isn’t it rhetorically very interesting that for Cherniak when a woman holds a doctorate and is married to a Liberal she is called a “doctor”, but when a womans hold a doctorate and also has been ordained but happens to be running for the NDP she is merely worthy of having her name smeared??? During his smear campaign (although to hear Cherniak tell it, it was he who was in fact smeared- utterly laughable) not once did he call the Rev Dr Cheri DiNovo “doctor”, and only a few times did he refer to her as Reverend.