The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

CYN­I­CISM ABOUT POLITI­CIANS, BU­REAU­CRATS and the sys­tem of gov­er­nance, we’re told, has many of us turn­ing away from pol­i­tics.

Our dis­taste for how pol­i­tics is done is partly to blame for fall­ing voter turnout num­bers, es­pe­cially among young peo­ple.

Cyn­i­cism, in that assessment, breed dis­en­gage­ment. Many of us barely take no­tice. When we do, how­ever, it’s usu­ally be­cause the govern­ment has done some­thing even more cor­rupt and egre­gious than we’ve come to ex­pect. That’s when we be­come in­volved enough to build up enough anger to vote the bums out at the next avail­able op­por­tu­nity.

That ap­pears to be the case just now, courtesy of the long list of scan­dals and in­com­pe­tence foisted on us by Kath­leen Wynne’s govern­ment. The lat­est fore­casts have the Lib­er­als tak­ing just five seats. The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives are pro­jected to take 67, while the NDP will vault in sec­ond place with 52.

Cor­rup­tion is noth­ing new for Wynne and com­pany – she’s been mess­ing up since day-one. What would be new, how­ever, is see­ing some­thing stick, es­pe­cially given the party’s sur­pris­ing win in 2014. Well, mostly sur­pris­ing, as the pub­lic was gen­er­ally fed up with the party, but it had se­cured – i.e. paid off – sup­port from pub­lic sec­tor unions, the same groups that took all the money but since switched al­le­giances to the NDP, which is promis­ing even greater pay­offs at the pub­lic’s ex­pense.

What we have in On­tario – and, re­ally, at all lev­els of govern­ment – is a re­verse Robin Hood sit­u­a­tion for the ben­e­fit of the votes govern­ment re­ceives. There is, of course, an even smaller few who ben­e­fit even more – these are the big donors and bene­fac­tors who pull the strings.

Not that the pub­lic sec­tor unions aren’t ma­jor bene­fac­tors, launch­ing third-party front groups to sup­port the pro­vin­cial Lib­er­als in elec­tions past. The unions pour mil­lions into such stunts.

Such fi­nanc­ing is il­le­gal at the fed­eral level, but the cor­rupt Wynne govern­ment was be­holden to the pub­lic sec­tor unions for its grip on power. It would not do the right thing, un­der any cir­cum­stance.

In ex­change for union sup­port, the Lib­er­als and NDP are de­ter­mined to con­tinue rob­bing Peter (re­minder: that’s us) to pay Paul. They will hap­pily run down the econ­omy and make pau­pers of all be­fore they will do what’s good for the peo­ple.

Ge­orge Bernard Shaw was pre­scient about the prac­tice: “A govern­ment that robs Peter to pay Paul can al­ways depend on the sup­port of Paul.”

While noth­ing akin to the full-time lob­by­ing and out­right cor­rup­tion of the cor­po­rate back­ers, the med­dling of public­sec­tor unions should be out­lawed, as they are fed­er­ally (not that there aren’t plenty of holes in the reg­u­la­tions). The govern­ment could eas­ily elim­i­nate all con­tri­bu­tions, lob­by­ing and third-party ad­ver­tis­ing, but there’s no will to do it.

Par­ti­sans turn a blind eye to all of the neg­a­tives, whether that’s in sup­port of a par­tic­u­lar party or a pet project. The rest of us look on ap­a­thet­i­cally, of­ten re­signed to the fact graft and cor­rup­tion abound. A few note that in­com­pe­tence is com­mon­place, from mu­nic­i­pal bu­reau­cra­cies through to the board­rooms of multi­na­tion­als.

The only way that’s go­ing to change is through the po­lit­i­cal will to push for true ac­count­abil­ity. The politi­cians won’t do it, how­ever, un­less we force them to: they’re happy with a self-serv­ing sys­tem that al­lows un­fet­tered ac­cess to the cookie jar for them­selves and their fi­nan­cial back­ers.

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