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Editorial: McGuinty’s long goodbye

Let’s rewind 17 years ago to 1995, the definitive end of the Rae Days. The province was running a $10.1 billion deficit and had accumulated a $98.6 billion in debt. Ontario’s unemployment rate hovered at 8.7%. We watched the NDP premier try to tax charities, drive up welfare spending, and open up shops on Sunday. He put a moratorium on new nuclear plants and opposed NAFTA. Ontarians breathed a sigh of relief in 1995 and told themselves "never again".History always repeats itself. Ontario, after nine years of the McGuinty Government is, in many cases, worse than the Ontario that Mike Harris inherited. The provincial debt has skyrocketed to $272.2 billion, the deficit is at $14 billion, and the unemployment rate is at 7.9%.While the economy was collapsing, "Premier Dad", as he came to be called, saw fit to micro-regulate people’s daily lives. Pit bulls and pesticides were banned. No smoking in the car with kids, or in a vehicle used for work purposes. No talking on your cell phone while driving and no more plastic bags when you buy your government-controlled alcohol from the LCBO. High school students staged a viral protest against the ban on junk food in their schools, advocating for freedom of choice.  McGuinty’s own kids called foul when the Ontario government tried to impose regulation that would restrict teen drivers to just one passenger in a car.Not to forget his seeming inability to tell the truth; list of broken promises is endless. He promised not to raise taxes, and then brought in the largest tax hike in Ontario’s history, the Ontario Health Premium. He promised to balance the budget throughout his mandate and to avoid any increases in provincial debt, and then managed to spend his way into doubled deficits and public debt. He promised to… Read More

Editorial: The CLASSE’s revolutionary road to nowhere

This summer, the leaders of Quebec's student radicals will be coming to a campus or community centre near you, whether as part of their Quebec public relations campaign in preparation for the expected fall election, or as part of their CFS sponsored Ontario tour intended to spread the student “strike” movement to the rest of the country.   Neither of the revolutionary road trips organized by the CLASSE (Quebec largest student federation) is likely to be successful, and both may end up reinforcing just how out of touch the protest movement’s leaders are with the vast majority of Quebeckers and Canadians.In Quebec, the influence of the radicals appears to be in steady decline. The daily protests which caught the attention of the world in March and April have petered out in the dog days of summer.  Demonstrations in downtown Montreal are mostly down to isolated handfuls of protesters, banging on pots and pans to make themselves sound louder and more numerous than they actually are. If their objective was to get the silent majority of Quebeckers behind them, they have failed completely; a majority of the population supports the government’s position on the tuition increase, while close to 70% of College and University students refused to boycott classes and finished their semesters on schedule.  Student associations remain on “strike” in only 14 of the province’s 48 Colleges and in the more ideologically sympathetic departments and faculties in about 11 of its 18 universities.  The majority of them are located in and around Montreal with only minimal representation from the rest of the province.The failure of the student leaders to earn greater public support is in large part due to their radicalism and indifference to the democratic process. The leader of the CLASSE, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, has made no secret of the fact… Read More

Editorial: The twenty-first century belongs to Canada

As we get ready to celebrate Canada’s 145th anniversary, we should recognize that we have much to be thankful for and every reason to be proud of our place in the world.  As one of the world’s oldest constitutional democracies, Canada continues to be a beacon of freedom, peace and stability in an often uncertain world.Our economy remains strong and prosperous, having avoided the public and private sector failures that have afflicted Europe and the United States over the past few years.  For the first time in decades, we are surpassing the United States in most measures of economic growth, employment, and quality of life.  Our place on the world stage is secure, as Canada continues to stand up for freedom and human rights whether in Afghanistan or in the assemblies of the United Nations. While Canadian federalism will always have its problems, the constitutional battles of the 1990s and early 2000s have largely receded. There is a new sense of pride and confidence in Canada which goes beyond the old regional and ideological divisions.It is appropriate that Canada Day 2012 will closely coincide with two other significant anniversaries; Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee and the 200th anniversary of the war of 1812. Queen Elizabeth has reigned with dignity and grace for 60 years, and represents the endurance of our political institutions. While Canada is often regarded as a young country—the political left often likes to pretend that it came into existence with the patriation of the Constitution in 1982—it is in fact one of the oldest constitutional democracies in the Western World. Our original written constitution, the British North America Act, dates back to 1867, when our founding fathers, Sir John A. MacDonald and Sir Georges Étienne-Cartier, succeeded in uniting Britain’s North American colonies into a single Confederal state… Read More

Editorial: It’s time for Québec to take responsibility.

It’s not just about tuitionAfter five months of continuous student protests, it is time to admit that the problem of the "strike" or boycott is one which will never be truly solved by negotiation or concessions—how can one negotiate with professional “activists” who are so devoid of common sense and perspective that they can compare a one night stay in jail for blocking the streets to the struggles of Gandhi and Mandela or give Nazi salutes to the Montreal police as though they were the Gestapo?  It’s also time to admit that the student conflict has long ceased to be about tuition rates or university funding. Rather, it is part of a much bigger battle that pits those, like the student leaders, who want to maintain the province’s decrepit 1970s social welfare model at all costs, against the politicians, like Premier Jean Charest and CAQ leader François Legault, who have come to recognize, however tentatively, that the status quo is unsustainable and that considerable sacrifices are going to be necessary to avoid the bankruptcy and economic stagnation currently afflicting Europe. Gabriel Nadeau Dubois, the leader of the radical CLASSE, has indicated on a number of occasions that he hopes that the protests will lead to a broader debate on the values and priorities of Québec society. For once, we agree with him. Unfortunately, the politicians who preach the rhetoric of “responsibility”, as Premier Jean Charest did in a recent TV ad, are missing a golden opportunity to make the case for a real effort on the part of all Quebeckers to reform our bloated welfare state and culture of dependence on government handouts (of which heavily subsidized tuition is only one example) and put our fiscal house in order. Their failure to do so goes a long way towards explaining… Read More

Editorial: Who governs Québec?

Yesterday, Line Beauchamp, Québec’s education minister, resigned from her post and quit public life, thus confirming what everyone already knew; the Charest government has neither the courage to stick to its guns on its proposed tuition increases, nor the apparently boundless flexibility needed to cut an acceptable deal with the leaders of the Québec’s student “strike.” After first watering down the tuition hike and increasing student aid on its own initiative, the Charest government negotiated a deal with the FECQ and the FEUQ that would seek to cut waste in university administrations and pass the savings on to students in the form of dramatically reduced ancillary fees. The agreement was dead within 48 hours and the Minister was gone within a week. Her resignation will likely be seen as a victory for the three main student federations, who thus far have regarded every concession the government has granted them as grounds for demanding more and further escalating the conflict. And it will give us reason to ask who really governs Québec, the mob on the street or the duly elected government? The success of the leaders of the FECQ, the FEUQ and the CLASSE in imposing their will appears all the more striking when one considers that they represent the less than a third of Québec university and college students who are still boycotting their classes and that their demands are supported by less than 40% of Quebeckers. More disturbingly, it suggests that the more sinister actions undertaken by members of the student movement, such as last Thursday’s subway bombing, have cowed the government into submission.  It now seems likely that the new education minister, Michelle Courchesne, will do more to water down the tuition hikes while embarking on another fruitless round of negotiations with student leaders. We would urge her to do otherwise. Québec’s student “strike” has… Read More
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