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Ontario politics

The Ontario Catholic School Board supporters had an email campaign, I guess…

Update- so here’s some proof of an organised campaign.

So. There is this website that the Ontario Liberals have set up called “Common Ground” that is designed to elicit comments from Ontarians on new policy directions. This is not a bad idea. But good ideas can be hijacked by special interests who would clearly be positively or negatively affected by a certain proposed policy. Such is the case with the idea called Merging the Public and Catholic School Boards.

Anyone who has passed through this blog in the past may have wandered by a post(s) where I have derided Ontario’s two Board system as discriminatory and wasteful.  So, I checked this idea about a week ago after hearing it mentioned on CBC Radio one morning. Happily, and not unexpectedly, the positive response (you get to vote for an idea either positively or negatively) was through the roof. This idea had one of the biggest positive uptakes only a week ago and now look at what’s happened.

I’d LOVE it if someone went public with the email that surely went out to Catholic Boards, the teachers and the unions urging members to go on-line and vote against this idea whose time has come. But no matter, this government has been clear that it has no interest in changing Ontario’s wasteful and discriminatory dual board system.



Perhaps a step toward…

…one school system in Ontario?

One can only hope. It will likely fail, but will expose the farcical inequities in our education system to those Ontarians who are, at present, blissfully unaware.

But you can bet that I and the many others who want to see the end of faith-based education funding in Ontario will be watching this case with interest.

The Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled that Sect. 93 of the Constitution Act, 1867, which guarantees Catholic school funding in Ontario, is immune from Charter challenges. (The Charter specifically exempts from review all rights guaranteed in the constitution.)

But Landau (the Plaintiff) contends that the obvious inequality that results must, by law, be narrowly defined.

To that end, she contends that Catholic school funding should be based today on the 1867 model, one that strictly limited government support.

In her application, filed in the Superior Court of Justice, Landau asks for an order that eliminates all government aid for Catholic schools from Grades 9 to 12.

She also seeks an order that limits the funding of Grades 1 to 8 to “only that aid available in 1867, that is, only property taxes from Catholics who declare themselves to be separate school supporters and who live within three miles of a separate school, and property taxes from wholly Catholic-owned businesses.”

She argues the current funding system unjustly forces her, through the tax system, to support Catholic schools.

“It means I’m being forced to fund a system that has sectarian views of which I do not approve,” she said. “I’m therefore being discriminated against because a Catholic is not being forced to fund a system of which they do not approve.”

You go, girl! And if you happen to come across this blog, let me know if I can help.


Why you should NOT vote for Harper – Part 3

This post is especially for those of us who live in Ontari-ari-o!

The Politics of Cynicism has been strongly spread around the hiways and biways of our fair Province. Billions of dollars have been promised to a broad range of interests in the hopes that pork barreling will buy a few precious votes – especially in battleground ridings around the 905 and 519 area codes.

But do these promised handouts make up for how the Harper government has treated Canad’s most populous province over the past couple of years? Without getting into Harper’s approach to Eastern Canada before he became the Grand Poobah of the ReformCons (build any firewalls lately Stevie?), here are a few examples of how the Harperites have dissed my fair province.

Jim Flaherty – Finance Minister:

…However, he had some tough words for his home province of Ontario, where a Harris-Decima poll released Friday suggested the public supports McGuinty’s view that Ottawa is giving short shrift to troubled manufacturers.

The poll found that 56 per cent of those surveyed supported the premier’s view that Flaherty is too focused on the oil-and-gas industry.

Asked about the poll, Flaherty responded that the Liberal premier “doesn’t get … that you must reduce your business taxes over time.”

“Their business taxes are the highest in Canada. If Mr. McGuinty thinks that’s good for the manufacturing sector in Ontario, he’s wrong.”

Flaherty said the policies are doing “long-term” damage to the province’s economy.

“It discourages investment in the province of Ontario,” he said. “If you’re going to make a new business investment in Canada, and you’re concerned about taxes, the last place you will go is the province of Ontario.”

More Flaherty:

A political gravy train or a shrewd plan for better passenger rail? Based on an internal report by the Ontario government, it would seem that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s pitch in last week’s federal budget for a passenger rail service between Toronto and Peterborough is a bad idea.

Mr. Flaherty’s supporters – notably Peterborough Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro – point to Trent University, Quaker Oats and General Electric as some of the major employers in Peterborough that would benefit from the scheme. But Mr. Flaherty’s fans are careful to avoid dwelling on the fact that the train service would run through his Tory riding – and also that of his wife, Christine Elliott, who is a Tory member of the Ontario legislature.

I blogged about this a while back.

So what about Harper himself? The Premier of Ontario and Harper aren’t exactly fishing buddies and every time Mr. McGuinty announces any sort of initiative (e.g., the agreement between Ontario and Quebec on greenhouse gas emissions), Harper and his posse are right there – tearing it apart… partisanship to the max!

John “pitbull” Baird on this progressive agreement:

Federal Environment Minister John Baird said the talks between Charest and McGuinty are more about “political posturing” than cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“I saw a great press conference,” Baird told the CBC’s Don Newman on Monday in Ottawa. “What the premiers are talking about is much in the line of what we’re doing, but it’s just talk.”

Take for another example the legitimate complaint by the Premier that Ontario continues to be a contributing province to our equalization system despite the fact that we are now – by definition- a “have-not” province.

Harper et al say “suck it up!” “Create a better business climate like we did!”

And now the ReformCons come hat in hand, asking for a majority. And I’m worried that, due to strong support in rural areas of the province (like my old stompin’ ground, sniff, sniff) combined with a Grit/Dipper/Green split of the left vote in swing ridings will indeed deliver Ontario.

And with Ontario coloured blue, so goes the nation.


The McGuinty and Charest tag team

Now isn’t this interesting… our two largest provinces teaming up to take the initiative on a cap and trade system – effectively snubbing their noses at the Harperites.

Both Premiers know that there is a general feeling amongst their voters that the nation as a whole hasn’t shown the leadership on this file that was expected. The Harperites have done little in the way of new initiatives (The tax credit for a buss pass? Gimme a break!) and some of the provinces like Alberta (Inc.) have actually “de“-volved in this area. Good ol‘ B.C. can always be counted on but we really did need some leadership from the central provinces.

Kudos to both Charest and McGuinty for this – whether you agree with it or not, at least someone is showing initiative.

It will be interesting to see how the PMO reacts to this but the initial signs are predictable. Bull-dog Baird has sniffed and said that it’s “political posturing”. But if the citizens of the provinces agree with the proposal and the Harperites do a poll and find that this is so, they may try to back pedal a bit.

Don’t forget that these folks are the champs in the realm of politics of cynicism!