Wynne needs all of 2017 to win back vot­ers’ favour

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION - JIM MER­RIAM jmer­riam@bmts.com

On­tar­i­ans don’t go to the polls to pick a new pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment un­til 2018. The elec­tion will be held on or be­fore June 7, 2018.

With the gov­ern­ing Lib­er­als plumb­ing new depths of dis­ap­proval in the polls, there’s lit­tle like­li­hood the vote will be held early.

Premier Kath­leen Wynne needs ev­ery pos­si­ble sec­ond to show On­tar­i­ans they re­ally mat­ter to this gov­ern­ment, to prove that her gov­ern­ment re­ally is “for the peo­ple.” It’s a Her­culean task. Here’s some of what Wynne and com­pany have to do to get back in the good books, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral On­tario.

The el­e­ments in­volved in this are so vast that they seem im­pos­si­ble, but there has to be a way.

First Wynne must stop any fur­ther sale of Hy­dro One. Shares al­ready have been sold off, but the util­ity be­longs to the peo­ple and must move for­ward work­ing for them rather than for cor­po­rate stake hold­ers.

Fur­ther­more, Wynne has no man­date to sell the util­ity. It never was part of her last cam­paign.

Next, the prov­ince has to ex­er­cise es­cape clauses to get out of pay­ing su­per-high prices for power pro­duced from wind.

No sec­ondary school com­merce stu­dent would sign a prov­ince up for such dis­as­trous busi­ness deals with­out an es­cape clause and if the Lib­er­als did so, that should be the end of the dis­cus­sion. They shouldn’t let the door hit them on the way out.

As­sum­ing some kind of es­cape can be worked out, the gov­ern­ment must fix the en­ergy bu­reau­cracy.

Start­ing at the top of the On­tario En­ergy Board and Hy­dro One, ev­ery sec­ond mem­ber of the two-mar­tini lunch crowd should be sent pack­ing. Those left should face 10-year salary freezes un­til the prov­ince comes close to catch­ing up with costs.

These mea­sures won’t fix en­ergy prices, but they’ll be a bet­ter start than all the crocodile tears and ac­com­pa­ny­ing apolo­gies in the world from the premier.

The prov­ince must stop all school clo­sures un­til after a re­view of ac­com­mo­da­tion rules. Such a re­view should be con­ducted by elec­tors, not bu­reau­crats.

Then, we need a sim­i­lar re­view of boards of ed­u­ca­tion. These bu­reau­cra­cies also need to feel the cold steel of salary freezes and job cuts un­til they un­der­stand they’re work­ing for the peo­ple, not the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry.

to move onto health care.

First step, scrap Bill 41, one of the most poorly named bills ever brought be­fore the leg­is­la­ture.

It’s called the Pa­tients First Act, yet it is re­ally the bu­reau­crats first act that moves pa­tients even fur­ther away from qual­ity health care.

In plain lan­guage it’s a stupid, con­ceived-in-an-ivory-tower-ap­proach that will ac­com­plish noth­ing ex­cept drive costs of health care fur­ther out of reach.

Then, the gov­ern­ment must reach a fair deal with the prov­ince’s doc­tors and re­store front line health jobs. These moves eas­ily can be fi­nanced by the same cuts to the bu­reau­cracy that are needed through­out Queen’s Park.

the gov­ern­ment must then look at the cost of liv­ing in On­tario due to taxes, li­cence and other fees that have gone through the roof, op­pres­sive bu­reau­cratic rules now gov­ern­ing trades in the prov­ince, stupid rules that make life more com­pli­cated and less ef­fi­cient for ev­ery­one from es­tate trustees to turkey hunters.

There’s lots more ideas out there for fix­ing On­tario and im­prov­ing gov­ern­ment.

All Queen’s Park has to do is lis­ten, an­other Her­culean un­der­tak­ing.

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