Monday, May 14, 2018


It was May 2000 and the Mike Harris government had been in power for five years. They lasted two more before being tossed by the electorate. Sixteen years since of both positives and negatives in our provincial Liberal government. Unfortunately the negatives have been vastly outweighing the positives for many years now. I don't believe in throwing out the baby with the bath water. Prior to Mike Harris we had Bob Rae and the NDP. Times were tough economically and among other unpopular measures were "Rae Days". The teachers unions were appalled and outraged especially as the NDP were pro labour unlike the Conservatives. Little did the teachers unions know that the incoming Mike Harris government was going to slash a billion dollars from the education system. That made Bob Rae indeed look pro union, unfortunately only in hindsight. Mike Harris also slashed nurses jobs as well as gutting the budget for the Ministry of Environment. What a message Mr. Harris sent business, industry and unfortunately the Ministry of Environment. He told the M.O.E. clearly that they were there only to get votes for the government of the day by appearing to be in charge of industrial emissions to our air, land and soil. In reality they were not supposed to inhibit any company's bottom line by insisting upon strict adherence to provincial environmental laws. Negotiations, cooperation and moral suasion were to be the keys. Afterall possibly Mike Harris believed that business and industry would respond to his government's cost cutting principles and not take advantage. Naive at the best.

Today's Waterloo Region Record carries the following Opinion piece by political commentator Geoff Stevens titled "Thinking Ford? Cast your mind back to Walkerton". Mr. Stevens pulls few punches in his criticism of the damage done to Ontario by Mike Harris and the Conservatives. Were they totally wrong on everything? No they weren't and I say that as a anti PC voter forever. Yes there was waste in both our hospitals and in our schools. Whether there was within the M.O.E. I do not know. What I do know is that the slashing of health care including the firing of thousands of nurses was ridiculous. The same thing goes for the slashing of the budget of the Ontario Ministry of Environment.

Geoff Stevens makes a strong case that the damage to the M.O.E. was a significant contributing factor to the Walkerton disaster. It was of course not the only cause as indicated in my post here last Saturday. Justice O'Connor spread the blame to all the appropriate parties including the M.O.E.. His recommendations have mostly been acted upon since although contaminated raw water sources are still being used for human consumption with however proper treatment and we hope better monitoring. Justice O'Connor made it clear that the water supply needed to be protected at every stage from the source, through the treatment systems and into the distribution system.

Geoff Stevens also spells out in his Opinion piece what the essential role of government is supposed to be. It is to serve and protect its' citizens. It is not to perpetuate itself and its' party to the detriment of the people. This good advice has long been lost at all levels of Canadian government.

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