A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted September 5th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
I don’t know about you, but I’ve just about had it with Kathleen Wynne and the disconnect between what she, as Ontario premier, tries to sell us through so many carefully crafted talking points and what she is or is not doing to address real issues in this province.
Here’s a premier who, after getting hammered over the head with a by-election defeat in the GTA this past September 1st, says she finally gets it that people are angry about skyrocketing hydro bills. Yet she still insists on forging ahead cap and trade system for reducing carbon emissions that has proven to be a costly, bureaucratic mess where ever else in the world where it’s been tried – that instead of going for a straight forward carbon tax on the largest polluters.
She flies off on these so-called “trade missions” and you can’t help wondering what decent-paying jobs in Ontario are going to be sold down the drain next. Last year, she went to China and issued a media release promoting a plan by China-based developers to build on hundreds of acres of what’s left of Niagara’s natural heritage in the Thundering Waters Forest of Niagara Falls.
She claims to care about the health and welfare of Indigenous people in Ontario and yet, somehow, and yet people from the Grassy Narrows First Nation have to rally like hell to get her to do some testing of industrial poison, in the name of mercury, in the English and Wabigoon River systems, let alone spend anywhere near the same amount of money it would cost to – let’s say cancel construction of a couple of gas-fired power plants – to clean it up.
Unless you are wealthy enough to buy some access to Wynne and her ministers, it’s not easy for everyday Ontario residents to get attention for their concerns unless, as it seems, they flatten one of her candidates, as they did this past September 1st, in a by-election.
And now on Labour Day – this Monday, September 5th, 2016 – Wynne circulates a statement in recognition of the “opportunity” this day offers “to celebrate the rights that every worker deserves.”
How about the right to get paid?
Wynne and her government oversee a college and university system in Ontario that makes it mandatory for countless thousands of students who are already in debt up to their necks, work hundreds of hours as “unpaid interns” in order to graduate and receive a diploma.
Many of these students are required to work as much as 700 hours or more – offering valuable services to whatever public or private sector party that is more than happy to take them – in order to “earn” their degree, then when they have their degree and are looking for a paying job doing more or less the same thing, another the province’s colleges and universities sent out another wave of “unpaid interns” to fill the slots.
This is little more than indentured slavery and Wynne has had more than 10 years, going back to her years as a cabinet minister for her former boss, Dalton McGuinty, to work to put an end to it.
So far, there is no hint that she is will do anything about this form of institutionalized exploitation. Yet out comes a statement celebrating Labour Day and bragging about “expanded protections for foreign workers.”
I’m all for more protections for foreign workers. These hard-working people come here, often from the poorest regions of the world, and get abused and exploited too under a threat of getting a one-way ticket out of the country if they dare to complain.
That is a serious problem too because as long as the so-called “job creators” out there (another term that belongs in the same Weasel’s Dictionary as “unpaid intern”) can import people from other countries that they don’t have to pay livable wages and benefits to, why would the hire their fellow citizens?
In the meantime, Madam Premier, don’t come out with a statement playing up your government’s “commitment” to supporting workers across Ontario when you continue to allow a system that makes young people desperately looking for a decent paying job to pay off their student debts and get started in life, work for free.
Now here, for the sake of some balance, is Wynne’s complete Labour Day statement.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne released the following statement today (September 5th, 2016):
“Labour Day is an opportunity to celebrate the rights that every worker deserves — and to pay tribute to the pioneers of the labour movement and the hard-working people who help keep our province going every day.
My government is committed to supporting workers across Ontario. We are strengthening regulations to keep people safe on the job. We have expanded protections for foreign workers. We are working with our labour partners to create and promote good jobs. And we are promoting equality in the workplace by taking steps to close the wage gap between men and women.
I look forward to continuing to work with our labour and business partners to ensure that Ontario remains one of the best places in the world to work, live and raise a family.”
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