Wynne de­liv­ers les­son on Lib­er­als’ strat­egy

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - OPINION - DAVID REEVELY — David Reevely is an Ot­tawa Cit­i­zen colum­nist. dreevely@post­media.com

Al­go­nquin Col­lege is get­ting a $2.9-mil­lion present from the On­tario gov­ern­ment to mark the 50th an­niver­sary of the prov­ince cre­at­ing the Ot­tawa com­mu­nity col­lege.

Pre­mier Kath­leen Wynne and all the lo­cal Lib­eral MPPs de­liv­ered the gift Tues­day as she be­gan a two-day swing through Ot­tawa.

“When the col­leges were cre­ated 50 years ago, there be­came this net­work of in­sti­tu­tions that were bet­ter con­nected to the labour force, that were pre­par­ing young peo­ple to go out into the work­force, and that is what has hap­pened over the last 50 years. And we want that tra­di­tion to con­tinue,” Wynne said.

A col­lege tour is right in a po­lit­i­cal sweet spot for Wynne: On­tario’s col­leges are a nexus of ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing for jobs of the fu­ture and gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion. The ar­gu­ment that we need the third to pro­duce the first and the sec­ond is cen­tral to the Lib­er­als’ quest for re-elec­tion. So later Tues­day, Wynne hit two high-tech com­pa­nies for pri­vate tours and the new “innovation cen­tre” run by In­vest Ot­tawa at Bayview, which was sup­ported by $15 mil­lion in provin­cial money.

But at Al­go­nquin, Wynne took praise from Al­go­nquin’s pres­i­dent, Ch­eryl Jensen, and Egor Evseev, the stu­dent as­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent.

They thanked Wynne re­peat­edly for the money and for hon­our­ing Al­go­nquin’s stu­dents with her time. Jensen joked that some­times they call Bob Chiarelli, the MPP and in­fra­struc­ture min­is­ter, the “Min­is­ter for Al­go­nquin Col­lege,” he’s been so good at get­ting money for the school.

The $2.9 mil­lion would have helped no matter what, but col­lec­tively this is not a group im­me­di­ately con­cerned about ru­ral hy­dro prices or the realestate bub­ble in Toronto det­o­nat­ing house­hold fi­nances, let alone iffy de­ci­sions a pre­vi­ous pre­mier made to can­cel a cou­ple of gas plants when most of them were in grade school. They’re wor­ried about jobs and stu­dent loans.

One nurs­ing stu­dent asked what in­cen­tives the gov­ern­ment can of­fer to keep nurses in On­tario, given that many of them leave the prov­ince to find sta­ble work.

“We rec­og­nize that there’s a need to make in­vest­ments,” Wynne said, and re­peated some­thing Fi­nance Min­is­ter Charles Sousa said last week about boost­ing health spend­ing in the provin­cial bud­get that’s due next Thurs­day.

A stu­dent asked Wynne’s views on work place­ments. Use them to build your net­work, the pre­mier ad­vised. An­other asked about men­tal-health sup­ports. We need more, the pre­mier agreed. We’re work­ing on it.

A man asked about in­dige­nous peo­ple.

“Our his­tory is very com­pli­cated,” Wynne be­gan. “It’s a long his­tory and we can’t undo it in a short pe­riod of time.” She med­i­tated on the teach­ing of his­tory, on the shame of boil-wa­ter or­ders on re­serves, on ed­u­ca­tion.

“There isn’t a sin­gle pol­icy we could pass and make this right. It’s a slow part­ner­ing ac­tiv­ity that has to make this hap­pen,” she said. We need to do a lot of dif­fer­ent things. In­clud­ing, for in­stance, build­ing a new in­dige­nous cul­tural cen­tre on this very cam­pus.

Wynne and her Lib­er­als are crip­plingly un­pop­u­lar. But Tues­day, you could see the gears of their re-elec­tion cam­paign click­ing into place. Next week’s bud­get will in­clude high-pro­file spend­ing on things peo­ple care about, par­tic­u­larly health care. Wynne will tour the prov­ince dis­pens­ing the cash, tout­ing the lat­est burst of eco­nomic growth, warn­ing it’s all at risk if we vote for Pa­trick Brown and his Tories.

Ron­ald Rea­gan said the nine most ter­ri­fy­ing words in English are, “I’m from the gov­ern­ment and I’m here to help.” For the On­tario Lib­er­als, they’re a slo­gan. And why not? It’s worked be­fore.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.