Whoever shows up to the polls tomorrow may determine Ontario’s next Premier and whether she or he enjoys a majority or minority government.
The question is, will that be decided by a majority of Ontarians, or will it reflect a different set of values decided upon by a much more motivated minority?
We do know that turnout to the advance polls was six per cent lower than last time, when the current minority government was decided by less than half of the eligible voters.
Worst still, according to ThreeHundredEight.com, only about one in four eligible voters admit that they have been following the election closely.
All you have to do is look around your community to observe so many fewer election signs.
That’s frightening given what is at stake.
Much has been made about Tim Hudak’s plan to slash 100,000 public sector jobs, or about one in six positions that the provincial government realistically has jurisdiction over. Think about it. If you work in a public hospital or in a nursing home, the odds of losing your job are about the same as a game of Russian Roulette.
Hudak has also promised to freeze wages, even for those whose earnings are already below the poverty line. This is his idea of being “fair.”
Despite the fact that more than 70 per cent of the funding for defined benefit public pensions come from investment returns, Hudak wants new public sector workers placed on defined contribution pension plans that will make more future seniors dependent on tax-funded old age guaranteed income supplements.
Few trust his promise not to mess with the Rand Formula that has kept labour peace in Canada since 1946. David Doorey says he doesn’t need to in order to dismantle Ontario’s labour unions. Doorey, the Academic Director of Osgoode Hall Law School’s executive LLM Program in Labour and Employment Law, writes in his blog that “while I believe his claim that one new job equals eight new jobs displays either sloppiness, stupidity or outright dishonesty, on this point, I believe his promise to fundamentally overhaul labour law.”
That won’t just affect public sector workers, but everyone who works for a wage.
“We do know that Hudak spent a lot of time in the U.S. consulting anti-union policy elites about how unions are being crushed by Republicans there,” writes Doorey.
Doorey draws obvious comparisons to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who similarly promised 250,000 new jobs – and delivered less than a third of them.
Walker’s labour law banned dues check-off, making union dues essentially voluntary. It banned collective bargaining by most public sector unions over all topics except for wages. That means no say in your pension, benefits or even hours of work. Even among wages, the Wisconsin bill limits settlements to the rate of inflation – that means no catch-up EVER. The bill makes unions annually apply for recertification, creating an endless series of workplace votes. The yes vote doesn’t count unless a majority of members cast a ballot, unlike the outcome of the last Ontario election.
“For public sector workers of all stripes, expect to experience what your colleagues have gone through in Wisconsin, including most notably wage freezes, wage cuts, and terminations,” writes Doorey.
Former Bank of Canada Mark Carney recently blasted “unchecked market fundamentalism” as we’ve seen championed by Hudak in this election.
“Just like any revolution eats its children,” Carney told an international conference on inclusive capitalism, “unchecked market fundamentalism can devour the social capital essential for the long-term dynamism of capitalism itself.”
“All ideologies are prone to extremes. Capitalism loses its sense of moderation when the belief in the power of the market enters the realm of faith,” he said.
We can walk into a voting station tomorrow and make sure that doesn’t happen here in Ontario. Or we can remain upset or indifferent to the shortcomings of the other parties and instead surrender to the worst possible outcome. You really do have a choice.