The self-styled “education premier” has been schooled by angry teachers.
About 5,000 educators outraged by Premier imposing a two-year wage freeze and curbing their collective bargaining rights rallied in protest Tuesday on the front lawn at Queen’s Park.
It’s a comeuppance for McGuinty, who has counted on support from the powerful education unions that loathed his Progressive Conservative predecessors Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, to remain in office since 2003.
While the Liberals increased teachers’ compensation by more than 25 per cent over the past nine years — and enjoyed labour peace — the warm relationship has ended.
“Mr. McGuinty, we will never ever, ever forget this betrayal,” Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario president Sam Hammond told the raucous crowd, many of whom chanted “liar, liar” when the premier’s name was mentioned.
The private sector unions spent years steadily diminishing the good will they had built up with the general public. From being defenders of the working man against the industrial capitalism, they became the wreckers of great industries and playing a not inconsiderable part in the weakening of domestic manufacturing. Selfless servants of the ordinary Joe to corrupt power brokers who moved as easily among criminals as politicians, the distinctions blurring among all three in time.
The public sectors unions seem to be working diligently to repeat the same disaster. No longer making sure that teachers and fire fighters are properly compensated, they have become in William F Buckley's phrase "labour union monopolists." From their monopoly positions they have extracted rents from the taxpayers of Ontario. These have been fat years for the public sector unions. To gain and keep their support the McGuinty Liberals have lavished the unions with pay increases and generous benefit packages. Teaching used to be a middle class job. With a bit of tenure and luck it can, thanks to the Dalt, become a upper middle class job.
Dalton McGuinty has been Mike Harris' spendthrift heir. Having spent seven years kicking and shouting the finances of this province into some kind of fiscal order, after a decade of Liberal-NDP mismanagement, we find ourselves in a hole not so different in size and origin than we began to climb out of in 1995. Those who today seek salvation on the Right of Ontario politics do so in vain. Faced with Trillium stamped bankruptcy Timmy Hudak pouts and calls names. Perhaps at some point he will provide concrete proposals. Just after he stops worrying about what the editorial board of the Toronto Star thinks of him.
Here's a hint Timmy: No matter what you do, including changing your first name to Bill and your last name to Davis, will stop the Red Start from denouncing you as the second coming of Attila the Hun.
The moralists, if not the accountants, should be heartened by this spectacle. It shows again that though the paths of justice are long they do at least end. The wicked meet their just reward. Unfortunately the wicked, being numerous and powerful, are able to impose the costs of their greed upon an unoffending and apathetic public. Socialism works until you run out of other people's money. We have run out of other people's money. This was apparent some years back. The Premier, as has been established, is a remedial learner.
The teachers, despite their profession, are not too quick on the uptake either. Perhaps they imagine that the resources of the government are infinite. That having feasted, while so many of their private counterparts were forced to fast, they are entitled to do so until the end of their days. Long after they have lifted chalk in the service of the public, they shall collect and collect. Is it vanity that drives them to the belief that such a system is fair? Or is that their greed blinds them to humdrum realities? It might be simpler still. Like the child who gets a toy with every tantrum they are now enraged that Premier Dad refuses to comply once again.
Modern governments rule through bribery. Not the illegal sort that the media so loves to uncover. No, it is the far more pernicious and less commented upon bribery, the sort that the Left rationalizes and considers a moral ideal: The bribery of the welfare state. It coincides so neatly that the noble goal of ensuring the government protects every man, woman, child and wanted fetus from every shock and misfortune of ordinary life, should also be a wonderful tool of political co-option. People like free stuff! It's wrong to get something for nothing? Not to worry. This university professor says it is moral and just to live off the state, as he does, because capitalism is immoral and corrupt. This other professor, citing no less an eminence than John Maynard Keynes, says that bribery is not bribery, it is "stimulus."
All is good and correct. A moral veil is placed over what other generations understood to be immoral. The Premier has bought his friends and now, the money gone, his friends become his enemies and call him liar. Did they still imagine him to be an honest upright man the day before yesterday? Yes they did, for then the money still flowed. They have run away from the old justice, claiming it out dated, and yet the old justice has come back. As our mothers taught, well some of our mothers, a friend is not a friend who does not like you for yourself. This is perhaps an unfair expectation of the Premier. So far as his political life goes no one has ever liked him for himself. He was a cipher who kept the lovely lucre flowing.
The teachers, many of whom are now little more than bureaucrats with chalk or magic marker, are so inflamed with greed, so callous of the needs of the taxpayer and the situation of the province, they have directed their rage at their Old Friend Dalt. Their outrage is partly justified. The Premier has, whatever the legal quibbles, imposed by dictatorial fiat a new contract on the teachers of Ontario. The unions are impotent before the raw force of the law. Their rights have been curtailed. But how could it be otherwise?
The first grave mistake was allowing public employees to unionized, something even so dedicated a Leftist as Franklin Roosevelt refused to countenance. A monopoly labour union that can hold to ransom the taxpayers is an unaccountable force, a threat to any liberal democracy. A private company may go bankrupt. Governments too can go bankrupt, after a longer period of time and with far greater consequence. In acquiring the special privilege of being a public sector union, and the enormous power that consequently accrued, they abused that privilege grossly. Now the taxpayers, who have financed this privilege for years, will say not a word when our opportunistic Premier belatedly strips that privilege away.
Dalton McGuinty and the teachers unions have brought themselves to their respective sorry states. They deserve each other so perfectly. Their greed brought them together and now their greed has undone them both. But there is another guilty party, they are part victim as well. They are the voters of Ontario. Having three times voted in a non-entity whose politics were more craven than the modern average, they have ultimately themselves to blame. They were shown quite clearly where this path had lead them before, yet still they persisted.
They have sown the wind, now they shall all reap the whirlwind.