January 29, 2013 - Vol. 3
One Year Anniversary of Wynne's
Selection as Premier
Liberals' Austerity Agenda Mired in
Thousands of working
people gather in Allan Gardens prior to marching
to the Liberal Leadership Convention which selected
Kathleen Wynne as
Premier, January 26, 2013.
in Legitimacy Crisis
Reasons to Defeat the
Liberals and PCs
Nation - Philip Fernandez
• Oppose Closure of Windsor Veterans Affairs
One Year Anniversary of Wynne's Selection
Liberals' Austerity Agenda Mired in Legitimacy Crisis
January 26, 2014 marked one year since Kathleen Wynne
selected as premier by 1,115 delegates to the Ontario Liberal Party's
Many of these were Liberal MPs, MPPs, failed candidates and party
"insiders." They were not elected as delegates but entitled to attend
the convention according to provisions in the party constitution.
Wynne's year in power as Premier has only deepened the
problems facing the Liberal Party and the province as a whole as a
result of the government's continued
determination to attack the rights of working people in the name of
making the province "competitive" or giving austerity a "fair" face.
Whether it be through the imposition of new provincial bargaining
arrangements in education, backing up EllisDon's union busting using
Bill 74, or handing over more public funds to large monopolies such as
Cisco and now likely Chrysler while others are permitted to wreck
perfectly good manufacturing facilities and the jobs that go with
them, the Wynne government's year in power has continued in the same
direction based on the same neo-liberal assumptions as its predecessor.
Wynne replaced Dalton McGuinty after he was forced to
resign as a result of corruption scandals and because he failed to
rescue himself by delivering a Liberal majority with which to impose
austerity on the working people. The opposition of the working people
to Bill 115 and the
attacks threatened against all public sector workers by then-Finance
Minister Dwight Duncan
so surprised the ruling circles that McGuinty and other high-level
Ministers had to resign to make it appear as if the government was
in order to avoid further labour unrest.
Wynne was selected by the ruling circles gathered at the
Liberal Convention in the hopes of delivering the same agenda but with
a more "consultative"
approach. The fact that she kept in place contracts imposed on teachers
and education workers by the previous McGuinty government using Bill
115 made it clear that the reset was only to address to
the tone of the attacks on workers' rights, not the content.
After the Liberals failed to win the seat in the
Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) by-election and the threat loomed of more
losses to come, one of Wynne's main appeals to delegates at the
leadership convention was that she already held a seat whereas Sandra
Pupatello, the original "front-runner," did not.
Wynne's selection revealed the extent to which private
interests have taken over direct control of the institutions of
government -- since the Harris government unleashed the anti-social
offensive in 1995 -- so as to guarantee there is no challenge to the
public purse being used to finance their faction of the rich in
competition with others to dominate the market. In particular, Charles
Sousa, who was not expected to support Wynne,
withdrew as a candidate for
leader and put his support behind her, paving the way for Eric Hoskins
to then move his support from Sandra Pupatello to Wynne, something that
unexpected. Sousa subsequently was named Finance Minister and has huge
control over the public purse on behalf of the interests he represents.
Minister, his budget -- which passed with the support of the NDP --
four more years of austerity on the working people of the province in
order to ensure that those
moneylenders who hold Ontario's debt were paid "on time." Before
joining the Legislature, Sousa was employed in senior positions for
than twenty years at the Royal
Bank of Canada, one of the domestic banks that holds Ontario's debt.
Meanwhile Hoskins, a medical doctor, is Minister of Economic
for administering pay-the-rich funds to certain monopolies.
Also of note is that Wynne at her selection made a big
point of showing off her credentials in terms of her relations with
First Nations. She highlighted
her position as former Minister of Aboriginal Affairs as well as her
family links with First Nations at a time when the ruling circles
desperately want to get
"buy-in" from First Nations for resource extraction, logging and energy
projects on their lands, especially in the area of northern Ontario
known as the Ring
of Fire where there are rich deposits of chromite and other minerals.
Since that time First Nations too have opposed her government's
attempts to get them to
give up their hereditary rights to their land and resources, whether
those in the Ring of Fire, or elsewhere.
By continuing to reject the austerity agenda, regardless
of who promotes it, the workers' opposition in concert with that of
First Nations have revealed the Wynne's government's anti-social,
corrupt character and its wrecking of a system which is designed to
uphold the public interest. The Niagara Falls by-election is a
new opportunity to challenge the austerity agenda and hold governments
to account for their willful disregard for the problems of the people.
A loss for both the Liberals and PCs would be a message that any party
that uses its position of power to push austerity and attacks on the
rights of workers and people will be opposed.
More Problems for the PCs and Liberals
Workers from across
southern Ontario send clear message to PCs at policy convention in
London, September 20, 2013.
Recent developments show that the workers' opposition to
the bogus austerity agenda championed by the Liberals and PCs is
forcing some MPs and candidates of
those parties to think twice about the direction they are taking and
their chances of winning.
Last week, right as by-elections began in Niagara Falls
and Thornhill, PC leader Tim Hudak was forced into the position of
having to fire his candidate
in the riding of Essex. The official reason given was that Dave
Brister, a former Windsor city councillor, opposed Hudak's proposed
The firing of Brister forced the PCs onto the defensive
over their anti-worker schemes at a time they are trying to keep them
on the back burner during
by-elections in hopes of trying to gain momentum heading into a
possible general election.
The fact that the PCs' anti-worker proposals are causing
the party to go deeper into crisis is a direct result of the workers'
opposition to the austerity agenda of both Liberals and PCs. This has
either to gain any real ground in by-elections from which to claim
Ontarians support their version of austerity and attacks on workers and
their unions. This opposition includes the actions
taken by working people of London and Southern Ontario right on the
doorsteps of the PC Policy Convention held in London and the Liberal
Provincial Council held in Hamilton.
Since Brister's firing, another two candidates in two
class ridings -- Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and Hamilton Mountain --
have resigned as candidates. Although
they both stated they fully support Hudak and his
right-to-be-slave-labour laws, their resignations indicate that it is
not a badge of honour these days to be a PC
The working people must now be vigilant. Similar to
McGuinty's resignation, from the inside of the PC party, there may be a
move to replace Hudak with a
more "centrist" leader. Just as with the resignation of McGuinty, the
aim would be to get the working people to
give up their independent organizing and let the PCs get elected to
impose the austerity agenda required by the rich under majority
For their part the Liberals too have been unable to
rehabilitate their image as a party of balance, let alone the
equilibrium in the parliament between a party in power with a majority
and a party in opposition to replace it when the people get too fed up.
Especially since the passage of Bill 115 by the Liberals and PCs and
its use to impose contracts on teachers and education workers, any
pretense of balance has been shattered. The resignation of Liberal MPP
Craitor in Niagara Falls is an expression of this. Craitor was the only
Liberal MPP who said publicly he would not vote in favour of Bill 115
and subsequently did not show up for the vote. This despite the
pressure that all other Liberals and PCs who were in attendance voted
in favour of the bill (one other Liberal and three PCs were absent for
the vote). Craitor also opposed the Liberals' proposal to close
hospitals in his riding.
Last week Craitor stated he would not endorse the
Liberal candidate in the Niagara Falls by-election, nor any of the
other candidates, saying they were all
his friends. This gives an indication that the Liberals' attacks on
workers and pushing ahead with their austerity agenda is causing
problems within their own ranks,
resulting in more by-elections and a lack of confidence in the
direction the party is taking.
These developments show that despite all the hype of a
reset by the Liberals, and the impression created by some about a
pending Hudak sweep, that in
fact both parties are being put on the defensive by the workers' active
opposition. This is all the more reason to keep it up and make sure
they are both defeated in
Reasons to Defeat the Liberals and PCs
Health Care Is a Right, Not a Policy Objective!
The right of all Canadians to health care, regardless of
where they live, is a key question in the Niagara Falls by-election.
The Liberals and PCs before them have systematically attacked this
right on the basis that having proper care in small towns is not
realistic and that the only option is to find "efficiencies" through
the "consolidation" of services, ie. cuts, into mega-sites, built on a
private-public partnership (P3) basis. Using this disinformation they
pit proper local care against
specialized care in central locations and the community is supposed to
pick between aging local facilities in their communities, or modern
state-of-the-art facilities long distances away from where they live.
This false debate presents those who affirm the right to health care of
all regardless of where they live as ludites who are against progress,
and those who want to cut services and privatize them as forces of
modernity. It has consistently been rejected by the people as it does
not start from what they require in order to live healthy lives
according to the standard that is possible in Canada. This anti-social
view presents the right to health care as a policy objective within the
confines of neo-liberal parameters that governments defend monopoly
right, rather than public right.
The riding of Niagara Falls is made up of the city of
Niagara Falls and the towns of Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake.
However, it is also part of the Niagara Region made up of other cities,
towns and villages. The right to health care for the residents of small
towns is a vital concern for everyone as it brings forward the issue of
whether Canadians' right to health care
is affirmed or is simply a policy objective left to the whims of
Hospital services essential
to communities include
emergency rooms, intensive care units, surgery, pediatrics and
maternity, mental health and addiction
services, long term care and ambulatory care, trauma centres, burn
units and rehabilitation and support therapies. Health care and
rehabilitation of loved ones
also demands that patients have easy access to family members nearby.
These services must be guaranteed as a fundamental right, not as a
or justification for handing over public funds to private interests.
Of great concern for the people of Niagara is that an
Ontario government-appointed supervisor of the Niagara Health System
(NHS), which oversees most
of the public health care facilities in the Niagara Region, made a
recommendation to close all existing NHS sites outside of St.
Catharines in return for the vague
promise of building an additional hospital somewhere in Niagara in ten
years to serve those 430,000 Niagara residents unable to make it to St.
Catharines to access hospital services.
Coincidentally, the new hospital was the last P3 model
hospital approved in Ontario; and
while it claims to be, and may be state-of-the-art, it will also
generate significant additional profit for the private developers while
still not meeting the needs of the region's
The people of the Niagara Region have put forward their
demands for the right to accessible health care on numerous occasions
in opposition to these government
plans to close hospitals in the name of "consolidation."
Yet governments have refused to affirm these rights and
instead claim that residents should just wait and see and trust that
government will do what is
best for them. On March 21 last year, a petition against hospital
in Niagara and for a publicly funded health care system for all signed
by 20,000 people in Niagara Region was presented to the Ontario
Legislature Besides this successful petition, many town hall
meetings and protests took place opposing the
Liberal government's "reorganization" of hospitals and health care in
their region. The people called on the government to reverse its
decision to close the
Welland Hospital and the moving of services to a new mega-hospital in
St. Catharines. The response of the Minister of Health to this
organized opposition at
that time was to welcome "community advocacy" but not lift a finger to
implement what the people were demanding.
As well, as part of their resistance, the people of
Niagara Region opposed the dismantling of the elected hospital boards
which provided a modicum of
accountability. These boards resisted the austerity measures that the
rich and their governments in Ontario were demanding and often stood up
for the people.
They have now been replaced by a salaried CEO, chosen -- by their
determination -- to inflict death by a thousand cuts to the health care
The Ontario Health Coalition, a network of over 400
community organizations representing virtually all areas of Ontario,
held hearings on small and rural
hospitals in 12 communities across Ontario in May 2010. The results of
those hearings were released to the government and to the public. The
people of Niagara,
including many health care workers and citizens in the riding, were
present at some of these hearings and expressed their concerns about
the hospital closures
and the dismantling of their health care system. Many stories were told
of the suffering and deaths of loved ones as a result of the
"restructuring" of health care
in Niagara and Ontario.
The residents are acutely aware that new government
"consolidation plans," including the opening of a new mega-hospital to
replace smaller community medical
facilities, will not benefit them.
Health care workers have been at the forefront of the fight for the right to
health care in Niagara. Ontario Council of
Hospital Unions/Canadian Union of
Public Employees (OCHU) president Michael Hurley recently pointed out:
"Despite all of the years of denials and obfuscation, the plan for
Niagara is revealed
to be a dramatic downsizing with the closure of 5 hospitals' services."
Saying that "this was the plan for smaller hospitals within driving
distance of larger communities rolling
out in the Niagara region," he added: "The worst part is that the
communities are misled throughout the entire process."
"We are very concerned about the absence of transparency
and openness in the processes which led to this decision. Niagara will
be left with a dramatically
diminished acute care capacity, embarrassingly inadequate when measured
against any developed economy," he emphasized.
New Hospital Announcement
It is in this context that the Ministry of Health and
Long-term Care announced, just days before Premier Wynne's January 13
call for the by-election in Niagara Falls, that a second new hospital
would be built near Niagara Falls. The Ministry promised $26 million
just for the "planning stage." The St. Catharines site that
opened in March and the proposed South
Niagara site plus two urgent care centres are intended to replace five
hospitals located in Port Colbourne, Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Welland
The government's decision to plan for a new hospital in
South Niagara and two urgent care centres comes at a time when it faces
a severe crisis of legitimacy. This stems from the fact that it has
abandoned the aim of upholding public right in favour of arrangements
which permit the direct takeover of the state by private monopoly
interests. Its refusal to recognize the demands of the residents for
accessible health care in all their communities stems from this
reorientation of which interests the state serves and how. Instead of
beginning from the premise that Ontarians have a right to health care
then establishing the needs of all communities large and small on that
basis and organizing to meet these needs, both Liberal and PC
governments start from the neo-liberal premise that the health care
system is an opportunity to enrich a handful of international service
providers. They peddle the disinformation that health care costs are
spiralling out of control because of aging populations and medically
unnecessary procedures and other unsubstantiated and irrelevant
nonsense. They declare that the main aim is to bring these costs under
control. On this basis, the residents of the Niagara Region, and all
other parts of Ontario, are presented with the unacceptable "choice" of
either seeing their own local, older and smaller hospitals close so
that newer "mega-hospitals" can be built in one "central" location, or
settling for community hospitals not being updated or expanded because
it is not "affordable." The corollary is that the latter option then
makes it difficult to
attract medical professionals because the facilities are not
"state-of-the-art." This coincides with the federal government's
cutting of transfer payments to provinces for health care and the
provincial government's program to further open up the health care
system to publicly funded private delivery in various ways, including
through P3 arrangements. All of it is a recipe to further dismantle the
public health care system.
The announcement of money for the "planning stage" of a
second near hospital "near" Niagara Falls is clearly an attempt by the
Liberals to keep the people's opposition to attacks on health care from
expressing itself at the polls during the by-election. Besides the
attempt to hold the people hostage to the idea that if they dare defeat
the Liberals they might get the PCs who will be worse, now the Liberals
imply that if the people do not elect a Liberal in the by-election,
they might not get "what they want" from the plans for the new
hospital. This cheap attempt to undermine the people's opposition
should be rejected with all the contempt it deserves.
Bogus Stand of the PCs
For their part, the PCs blame Liberal mismanagement for
the cuts and say health care costs can be reduced without
service cuts by finding "efficiencies"-- code for attacking workers and
privatizing services. This is the same Hudak who was part of the Mike
Sense Revolution" that gutted Ontario's health care system and
privatized various parts of it under the hoax of paying down the debt
to the moneylenders. So much interest has been paid on that debt, time
and time again, that it has in fact been paid several times over. Not
only that but after all the money borrowed to finance pay-the-rich
schemes, the debt actually increased, not decreased.
The voters in Niagara Falls can defeat both the Liberals
and Conservatives to send a message that Health Care Is a Right! and that
government's duty is to mobilize the resources of the society to
guarantee this right, regardless of where people live or their means.
The fear-mongering that this is not "economical" is a red herring. When
it is determined that certain things are socially necessary, the means
to put them in place are found and justified. It is a matter of who
decides what is socially necessary. Whose interests are to be served,
those of the working people or those of the rich? All of it shows that
what is socially necessary today is to rally everyone to block
governments from serving private interests at the expense of the public
interest. The by-election in Niagara Falls is an opportunity to defeat
both the Liberals and PCs who are the champions of the austerity agenda
which turns over the pubic health care system to private providers. The
challenge is to make sure that in this by-election, once again, the
voters' No! means No!
Defeat the Liberals and
Defeat the Austerity Agenda!
For previous reports on the question of health care in
Niagara, see Ontario
Political Forum, March 14, 2013 - No. 27, "Government Put on
of Billions from Health Care Is Unacceptable."
Government Perfidy Against Grassy Narrows
On December 23, 2013, the
Wynne Liberal government
unilaterally announced plans to commence clear-cut logging in the
traditional, Treaty-protected lands
of the Grassy Narrows First Nation. This is an act of perfidy against
the Grassy Narrows First Nation in the Treaty 3 region of Northwestern
Wynne has no legal right to do it, especially in view of a visit she
made to Grassy Narrows in the summer of 2012, as Minister of Aboriginal
the aim of re-building Ontario's relationship with Grassy Narrows to
"get it right."
Grassy Narrows First Nation first set up a blockade in
2002, the longest-running blockade in Canada, on a logging road five
kilometres from the community,
to protest the clear-cutting practices that were threatening their
traditional, constitutionally-protected activities of hunting, fishing,
trapping and gathering. They
have engaged in legal battles for close to fifteen years against the
Ontario government's racist disregard for their Treaty, hereditary and
indigenous rights. In
2011, the Ontario Superior Court ruled that the province cannot
authorize timber and logging if the operations infringe on Treaty
rights to hunt and fish. The
Liberal government has appealed this decision and the Supreme Court
will hear the case on May 15, 2014. In the meantime, however, instead
of maintaining a moratorium pending the Supreme Court decision, the
Wynne government, with utter disregard for the concerns of the Grassy
Narrows First Nation, plans to go ahead unilaterally by issuing
licences for logging as part of the Whiskey Jack Forest Management Plan
set to start on April 1, 2014. The Whiskey Jack
Forest Management Plan will cut down what little mature forest remains
in Grassy Narrows Territory. This is a criminal act on the part of the
Back in November 2013, Grassy Narrows
Wynne government plans when it was discovered that the Ontario
government was going to go
ahead with the clear-cutting, despite the written claims of Natural
Resources Minister David Orazietti that "Under this Plan [Whiskey Jack
Plan], there are no planned harvest blocks located within the Grassy
Narrows' self-identified Traditional Land Use Area." Clearly this was a
The Ojibway people of Grassy Narrows First Nation say
the Ontario government's clear-cut logging in their territory over the
years has adversely affected
forests in their community and contributed to the mercury poisoning
that has affected them for over 50 years.
Between 1962 and 1970, Dryden Chemicals Inc., a paper
mill, dumped 20,000 pounds of mercury into the Wabigoon River with the
approval of the Ontario government. A recent Japanese study released in
June 2012 conducted by Dr.
Masazumi Harada revealed that the mercury poisoning is still adversely
affecting the health of Grassy Narrows people 50 years after the
contamination of their
river began. Seventy-nine per cent of the people he tested in 2002 and
2004 had or may have had Minimata disease. This chronic neurological
can affect vision and hearing, cause muscle loss and in extreme cases,
insanity and death, has affected three generations of Grassy Narrows
Once again, Grassy Narrows First Nation Chief Simon
Fobister expressed his concerns in a December 23 news release following
about the Whiskey Jack Forest Management Plan. He stated: "Premier
Wynne, it is within your power to ensure that the mistakes of the past
are not repeated
at the expense of another generation of Grassy Narrows children."..."I
call on you to intervene to repeal this hurtful plan and to ensure that
never again will
Ontario attempt to force decisions on our people and our lands."
Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief Stan
Beardy who represents the 133 First Nations in Ontario has called for
the immediate blocking of
logging operations if the Wynne government plan for logging within the
Grassy Narrows First Nation proceeds. Regional Chief Beardy pointed out
"The blockade was put on hold because we were under the impression that
with the lawsuit pending, all [logging] activities had been put on
unfortunately it looks like that's not happening," adding, "So if the
logging starts up again, so will the blockage. Unfortunately, it seems
to be the only way
they'll pay attention to us. We tried the political process, we tried
having a conversation with them."
Oppose Closure of Windsor Veterans Affairs Office!
On Friday January 31, at 11 am at 441 University Ave.
and their supporters from Windsor and surrounding areas will hold a
rally outside the Veteran's Affairs office that is set to close that
day as part of the Harper government's anti-social offensive and its
attack on public services people rely
According to the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the
office is responsible for the services to more than 2,600 people and
had a staff of 10 in 2012. Those people will now be served by the
London office and added to its client base of more than 6,100.
Meanwhile staffing in London that was 21 in
2012 will be reduced to 19 after the Windsor closure. This is
deplorable and veterans are refusing to accept this state of affairs.
Such attacks on the elderly and most vulnerable show the inhuman and
anti-social nature of the Harper government.
For more information on the demand of Veterans to oppose
the closures of Veterans Affairs offices, see TML Weekly,
November 16, 2013 - No. 45.
Candidates Meeting on Health Care in Niagara Falls
On Tuesday, February 11, from 7-9 pm in the Memorial
Room of the Gale Centre in Niagara Falls there will be a candidates
meeting on the question of health care. The candidates for the
Liberals, NDP and PCs in the February 13 by-election have been invited.
is organized by the Niagara Health Coalition and sponsored by SEIU,
OPSEU Local 215 and the Ontario Nurses' Assocation Local 26. Everyone
is invited to attend. The Gale Centre is located at 4171 Fourth Ave.
For more information contact the NHC at 905-359-7007 or
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