Warren “Smokey” Thomas Says he Thinks Wynne is Lying. I think he’s right!

http://bcove.me/t7izbk0h

TORONTO – Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne is lying when she says she will not cut public sector jobs, the top boss of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union said Tuesday.

Warren “Smokey” Thomas accused Wynne of burying $1.2 billion in cuts in the dead-on-arrival budget earlier this year.

“It’s in the fine print,” he said during an interview on Sun News Network, pointing out that at $40,000 for an average salary, the Liberal cuts would have chopped more than 30,000 jobs from the public payroll.

When asked if Wynne was lying, Thomas said: “Yes. In my personal opinion, yes, I think she is.”

The Liberal leader has campaigned as the saviour of public sector jobs, promising the public sector will be just as big four years from now if she’s elected.

But a Bloomberg report from last week found that Wynne’s budget would mean the biggest public service cuts since the time of Mike Harris.

Thomas says he wrote a letter to Wynne outlining his hope for $1.25 billion in budget savings.

He says he has asked Wynne exactly what she would cut to reach that number, in order to assuage OPSEU members who fear losing their jobs to cuts or privatization.

However, he says, he has yet to receive any specific answers, only assurances that Wynne would keep “public services public.”

“She’s not being straight with the people she employs. She’s not being straight with the people of Ontario about her plans,” Thomas says.

But Wynne has tried to scare voters with warnings that Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak would weaken government services with his plan to cut 100,000 government jobs. Thomas said at least Hudak is “honest and straightforward” with what’s he’s proposing to do.

Previously, Thomas has said he believes there could be as many as 60,000 middle management positions in the public sector that could be eliminated to find savings.

On Tuesday, Thomas said his union – the third largest in Ontario and the second largest public sector union in Canada – is “politically agnostic” and doesn’t get officially involved with any party. Personally, Thomas supports the NDP and said he’s already voted for that party in the advanced polls.

 

 

Tim Hudak is an Honest Man, and a Man of Compassion and Integrity. We Will be Lucky to Have Him!

Hudak vows to protect people who ‘are falling through the cracks’

Credits: Mike DiBattista/Niagara Falls Review/QMI Agency

ANTONELLA ARTUSO | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO — Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak stressed his softer side Tuesday with a pledge to help people with disabilities and disadvantages realize their potential in the workforce.

At a campaign stop in Toronto, Hudak said his plan would deliver jobs for those who currently struggle to find work.

“Who’s closest to my heart? Those who are falling through the cracks today, those with disabilities, the disadvantaged, young people graduating from school with a lot of energy and hope but no job. That’s who I’m going to fight for every day,” Hudak said.

Hudak noted that 20 unions, many of them representing public sector workers, have joined with his political challengers in a barrage of negative messages about him and his party in the lead up to the June 12 vote.

His opponents would have voters believe that the sky would fall if the PCs gain government, he said.

“I’m going to set the record straight. The sun is still going to shine. Cows will still give milk. The sky’s still going to be blue,” he said.

The PCs have said they will not cut teachers or educational assistants who work with children with special needs, or social workers who help people with disabilities overcome their difficulties.

David Lepofsky, chair of the Alliance of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, said the organization analyzed the commitments of the three major political parties.

Hudak, he said, has refused a request to protect regulations that ensure accessible workplaces for Ontarians with disabilities.

“We aren’t happy with any of the leaders,” he said. “With that, we have to say that Tim Hudak’s position on disability-accessibility is by far the weakest.

Hudak has said this issue is “personal” for him as one of his two daughters has developmental needs.

There is No End to the Mismanagement, Corruption, and Lies, from the Liberals!

MaRS, the Ontario government’s very own money pit

All of Ontario's taxpayers will be saddled with the obligation to repay not only the bad debt of MaRS but also to fund other public entities who have signed on to occupy a portion of that high-cost Phase 2 building.

Peter J. Thompson/National PostAll of Ontario’s taxpayers will be saddled with the obligation to repay not only the bad debt of MaRS but also to fund other public entities who have signed on to occupy a portion of that high-cost Phase 2 building.

Those “premium tenants” are provincial entities that depend on the Ontario government for funding

Infrastructure Ontario (IO), an Ontario Crown corporation, provided financing of $235-million to fund the Phase 2 expansion of Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District. That loan is apparently now in default, a revelation that has had an impact on the current Ontario provincial election. What’s the story behind MaRS, which stands for Medical and Related Sciences?

Begin with Infrastructure Ontario’s March 31, 2012 annual report (the March 31, 2013, annual report has yet to be released, so never mind the 2014 report). In the 2012 report, it is difficult to find any information on the MaRS financing. On page 21 the name MaRS together with an amount of $153,612,000 is listed as “Outstanding” among a list of Tier 1, 2 and 3 risk-rated loans totaling over $4.2-billion. The MaRS loan is classified as a Tier 2 category risk under the heading “Credit Risk Mitigation,” which is described as: “Industries are either regulated or entitled to government based revenue contracts and therefore have a stable source of debt repayment.”

That description sounds reasonable, except that MaRS is neither “regulated” nor “entitled to government based revenue contracts.” MaRS is a “registered charity under the Income Tax Act” and therefore not “regulated” by the province nor “entitled to government based revenue contracts.”

As an entity, MaRS has been dependent on government largesse via grants (mainly from the Province of Ontario). Grants now exceed $160-million since MaRS was created.

It was never clear how a new building estimated to cost $344-million could be financed with a loan for $235-million. The expansion announcement July 26, 2011 by Glen Murray, then Minister of Research and Innovation, said nothing about the $109-million shortfall. At that time MaRS had a net worth of about $30-million and had lost money since its opening in 2005. An inquiry I sent to Mr. Murray about the shortfall back in September, 2011, received this response: “As far as Government of Ontario investments in MaRS are concerned, financial accountability has been paramount for monies that have been invested in MaRS over the past few years.”

Minister Murray also responded to my question on how the loan from MaRS would be repaid stating: “It is the revenue from the tenants of MaRS Phase 2 that will pay off the loan to Infrastructure Ontario – and, ultimately, allow MaRS Centre Phase 2 to pay for itself. Most of these tenants will be high-quality commercial entities paying market rates on their leases for what is regarded as premium science and technology space in downtown Toronto.”

So far, those “premium tenants” for MaRS “Phase 2” include Public Health Ontario (PHO) and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), provincial entities that depend on the Ontario government for funding. The former was an outgrowth of the 2003 SARS epidemic and set up by the McGuinty Liberals. In their first annual report of March 31, 2009, expenses were $36.7-million and 17 staff made the “sunshine list” earning more than $100,000 a year. The March 31, 2013, annual report shows expenses of $148-million, up 303%, and 81 staff made the “sunshine list”! IO is also providing $54-million in financing to PHO for a laboratory in the new MaRS building. The Province provided funds of $84.2-million to OICR in the year ended March 31, 2013.

Meanwhile, the “high-quality commercial entities paying market rates on their leases” have failed to materialize, leading to MaRS default!

All of Ontario’s taxpayers will be saddled with the obligation to repay not only the bad debt of MaRS but also to fund other public entities who have signed on to occupy a portion of that high-cost Phase 2 building. To summarize: the direct cost of the building was $344-million, the PHO lab will cost $54-million and the two tenants depend on receiving government funding of $235-million annually. Additionally, the estimated annual carrying costs will add another $113-million over 10 years that the taxpayers will be on the hook for.

The MaRS story raises doubts about all of the $4.2-billion in loans that IO had on its books at March 31, 2012. What are the updated risk qualifications on all of IO’s obligations?

It’s time for the Auditor General to conduct a review of both Infrastructure Ontario and the MaRS Discovery District and provide the taxpayers of the Province with the true picture of their financial position.

Parker Gallant is a retired bank executive.

Scientists Can Be Bought…. Beware of Government-biased Scientists.

SCIENTIFIC PRETENSE VS. DEMOCRACY

Arrogance and intolerance in the name of superior expertise are antithetical to popular governance and the requirements of honest argument. But that hasn’t stopped them from becoming a central feature of our political life.

by: Angelo M. Codevilla

“We will restore science to its rightful place…”
—Barack Obama

Unpacked, this sentence means: “Under my administration, Americans will have fewer choices about how they live, and fewer choices as voters because, rightfully, those choices should be made by officials who rule by the authority of science.”

Thus our new president intends to accelerate a trend a half-century old in America but older and further advanced in the rest of the world. There is nothing new or scientific about rulers pretending to execute the will of a god or of an oracle. It’s a tool to preempt opposition. The ruler need not make a case for what he is doing. He need only reaffirm his status as the priest of a knowledge to which the people cannot accede. The argument “Do what we say because we are certified to know better” is a slight variant of “Do what we say because we are us.”

An Old Story

THE FRENCH REVOLUTIONARY INTELLECTUALS and merchants who founded the modern state spoke of political equality. But they knew that if the masses governed, they might well have guillotined them rather than nobles and priests. And so they set up, and Napoleon perfected, a system of government that consisted of bureaucracies. In practice and in theory, the bureaucracies defined the modern state in terms of efficient administration, which they called scientific. In 19th-century France, Prussia, and their imitators, the state set standards for schools, professions, and localities. While elected assemblies might debate abstractions, they did not deal with the rules by which people lived. Political equality and self-rule were purely theoretical, while personal latitude was at the discretion of the bureaucracies. This is the continental model of the state, best explained by G. W. F. Hegel in The Philosophy of History and by Max Weber in his description of the Rechtsstaat, the “rational-legal state.” Access to this ruling class is theoretically equal, typically through competitive exams, and its rules should apply equally. Just as in the ancient Chinese imperial bureaucracy, decisions should be made by those who know and care best: the examination-qualified bureaucrats. In modern governance, in addition to embodying the state, the bureaucrats are supposed to be the carriers of the developing human spirit, of progress. Only in Switzerland and America did the theory and practice of popular government survive into the modern world. But note: they survived because they were planted on older, hybrid pre-Enlightenment roots.

Because the pretense of rare knowledge is the source of the modern administrative state’s intellectual and moral authority, its political essence is rule of the few, by their own authority, over the many. Ancient political theory was familiar with this category, distinguishing within it the rule of the moneymakers for the purpose of wealth, of the soldiers for glory, or of the virtuous for goodness. But modern thought has reduced government by the few to the rule of the experts. Expert in what? In bringing all good things, it seems. This was so when Mexico’s dictator Porfirio Diaz (1876–1911) justified his rule by claiming that he was just following the impartial advice of “los cientificos,” the scientists, about economics and public administration. Never forget that the one and only intellectual basis for Communist rule over billions of people since 1917 is the claim that Karl Marx had learned the secret formula for overcoming mankind’s “contradictions,” especially about economics. How many millions genuflected before the priests of “dialectical materialism”! To a lesser degree, the “brain trust” and “the best and the brightest” were important sources for the authority of the Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy administrations, respectively.

The scientific subject matter to which the rulers claim privileged access matters little. Three generations ago it was economics, in our time it includes everything from environmentalism to child rearing. But whether the objective be rainmaking, the avoidance of plague or falling skies, the fulfillment of fond wishes, or the affirmation of identity, the ruler’s incantations establish the presumption that he and his class know things that others do not or cannot know; that hence he and his class have the right to rule, while the rest must accept whatever explanations come from on high. In our time, such knowledge is called science, and claiming ownership of it practically negates political equality, if not human equality altogether. Claiming it is a political, not a scientific, act.

Knowledge and Equality

THE CLAIM THAT PUBLIC AFFAIRS (and as well many matters heretofore deemed private) are beyond the capacity of citizens to understand and too complex for them to administer, and hence that only certified experts may deal with them, must be cynical, at least to the extent to which those who make it realize that only theoretically does it transfer power to “the experts.” In practice, the power passes to those who certify the experts as experts. Surely, however, the polity’s ordinary members cease to be citizens.

Aristotle teaches that political relationships— that is, relationships among equals—depend on persuasion. Conversely, persuasion is the currency of politics only insofar as persons are equal. Whereas equals must persuade their fellows about the substance of the business at hand, despots, kings, or aristocrats exercise power over lesser beings by pointing to their status. But do those who rule on behalf of superior knowledge really know things that endow them with the right to rule? What might such things be? What subjects, what judgments, qualify as “science,” meaning matters so far beyond the horizon of ordinary human beings as to disqualify commonsense judgment about them? What can any humans know that the knowledge of it rightly places them in the saddle and others under it? What are the matters on which the public may have legitimate opinions, and on what matters are their opinions illegitimate, except when expressed by leave of certified experts? Moreover, how does one accede to the rank of expert? Must one possess a degree? But neither Galileo nor Isaac Newton had any, never mind Thomas Edison. Moreover, possessors of degrees do differ among themselves. Must one be accepted by other experts? By which ones? Note also that scientists are not immune to groupthink, to interest, to dishonesty, to mutual deference or antagonism, never mind to error.

The problem is patent: Because it is as plain in our America as in all places and at all times that some men do know the public business far better than others, it follows that the people in charge should be the ones who best know what they are doing. Hence, inequality of capacity argues for political inequality. To the extent that the matters to be decided rest on expertise, any nonexperts who claim a civil or natural right to refuse to follow the experts in fact abuse those rights. At most, nonexperts may choose among competing teams of experts.

But on what basis may they choose? If the questions that the experts debate among themselves are fundamentally comprehensible by attentive laymen, “science” would be about mere detail and citizens would be able to decide the big questions on the basis of equality. But if the “science” by which the polity is ruled disposes of essential questions, then citizenship in the sense of Aristotle and of the American Founders is impossible, and the masses should be mere faithful subjects. And if some voters dig in their heels or place their faith in scientists who are out of step with “what science says”—quacks, by definition— then they undermine the very basis of government that rests on expertise. Such inequalityis compatible with some conceptions of citizenship, but not with the American or democratic versions thereof.Because Americans believe that “all men are created equal,” they tend to identify the concept of citizenship with that of self-government; the American commitment to equality means equality in the making of laws. Even more, it presumes laws under which persons may live as they wish, that the people have the final say on any restriction of that freedom, and that even popular assent—never mind scientific decision-making—cannot alienate the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Unlike Hegel and Napoleon, who saw nations as organisms to be organized scientifically, Americans view public life as an arena of clashing interests that must be adjusted to their general satisfaction. Hence from the American perspective, removing the polity’s business from the arena of politics to the cloisters of science just restricts the competition among the polity’s factions and changes its rules. Whereas previously the parties had to address the citizenry with substantive cases for their positions and interests, now translating those positions into scientific terms expressed by certified persons means that the factions must fight one another by marshaling contrasting scientific retinues, by validating their own and discrediting their opponents’ experts. It follows then that the modern struggle is over control of the process of accreditation, and that the arguments the masses hear must be mostly ad hominem, seldom ad valorem— not least because the experts deem the masses incapable and unworthy of hearing anything else.

Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” revolutionized the relationship between ordinary Americans and their government by introducing a new kind of legislation: thenceforth, the people’s elected representatives would delegate to “independent” executive agencies the “quasi-legislative” and “quasi-judicial” power to invent and administer the rules in their field by which people would live. The citizen’s recourses against these powers are mostly theoretical. The notion that they are “independent” and rule by impartial expertise is on the level of stories about tooth fairies.

Scientific Pretense Comes to America

AMERICA GOT ITS FIRST straight dose of scientific governance in the 1950s. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Brown v. Board of Education—whether schools segregated by race fulfilled the 14th Amendment’s requirement for “equal protection of the laws” to all citizens—not by reference to any legal or political principle on which the general population might pronounce themselves (one such principle was available in Justice John Marshall Harlan’s dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, the case that Brown overturned), but rather by reference to a “study” by sociologist Kenneth Clark concluding that “separate is inherently unequal.” This was a finding supposedly of fact, not of law. Whereas ordinary citizens were supposedly competent to agree or disagree with the legal and moral principles on either side of these cases, the Court decided Brown on a basis that could be contested only by sociologists as well credentialed and funded as Mr. Clark. Debates within the Court and in society at large subsequently have been focused not so much on what is lawful as on contending studies about the effects of competing policies.

The scientization of American political life was just beginning. Between the 1950s and 2000 social policy slipped away from voter control because the courts and the “independent agencies” took them over. Beginning in the 1970s, courts and agencies began to take control of economic life through the pretense of scientific environmental management.

In Massachusetts v. EPA (2007), the Court agreed with what it called predominant scientific opinion that human emissions of carbon dioxide cause “global warming” and hence ordered it to regulate those emissions—essentially America’s economy. The American people’s elected representatives had not passed and were not about to pass any law concerning “global warming.” No matter.

It should be superfluous to point out that “scientific” briefs submitted to courts, as well as the innumerable contacts between expert “independent” agencies and the interest groups in the fields they regulate, are anything but impartial, bloodless, disinterested, apolitical. But in fact the power of scientific pretense rests largely on the thin veil it casts over clashes of interest and political identity. Let us look further.

In his 1960 Godkin lectures at Harvard, C. P. Snow, who had been Britain’s civil service commissioner, told Americans that “In any advanced industrial society…the cardinal choices have to be made by a handful of men: in secret and, at least in legal form, by men who cannot have firsthand knowledge of what these choices depend upon or what their results may be.” In short, public figures must be figureheads for scientists who are formally responsible to them but whose minds are beyond common understanding and scrutiny. Snow concluded that society’s greatest need was for change, and that scientists were “socially imaginative minds.” While scientists should not administer, he said, they should be part of the Establishment, along with administrators. He illustrated this point by contrasting the clash in Britain between two scientists, Sir Henry Tizard, innovative, progressive, and very much a member of the administrative- scientific Establishment, and F. A. Lindemann, a scientist close to Winston Churchill but outside the Establishment. According to Snow, Lindemann polluted science and administration with politics, while Tizard’s contrary scientific and administrative opinions were supra-political. Tizard’s membership in the Establishment made them that. But in the same year, President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell to the American people after eight years in the White House and a lifetime in the U.S. Army argued that government’s embrace of science would corrupt itself and science. Whereas Snow had taken pains to identify science with public policy and to call true scientists only those who got along with colleagues and especially with administrators, Eisenhower pointed to these things as subversive. His oft-cited warning about the dangers of a “military-industrial complex” was part of the address’s larger point: the danger that big government poses to citizenship:

…a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.

The prospect against which Eisenhower warned has become our time’s reality. One accedes to the rank of expert by achieving success in getting grants, primarily from the government. Anyone who has worked in a university knows that getting government grants is the surefire way to prestige and power. And on what basis do the government’s grantors make the grants that constitute the scientific credentials? Science itself? But the grantors are not scientists, and they would not be immune to human temptations even if they were. Personal friendship, which C. P. Snow touted, is not nearly as problematic as intellectual kinship, professional and political partisanship. In sum, as Eisenhower warned, politicians are tempted to cast issues of public policy in terms of science in order to foreclose debate, to bring to the side of their interests expert witnesses whose expertise they manufactured and placed beyond challenge.

Power by Pretense

TESTIFYING TO A JOINT CONGRESSIONAL committee on March 21, 2007, former vice president Al Gore argued for taxing the use of energy based on the combustion of carbon, and for otherwise forcing Americans to emit much less carbon dioxide. Gore wanted to spend a substantial amount of the money thus raised to fund certain business ventures. (Incidentally or not, he himself had a large stake in those ventures.)

But, he argued, his proposal was not political, and debating it was somehow illegitimate, because he was just following “ science,” according to which, if these things were not done, Planet Earth would overheat and suffocate. He said: “The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don’t say, ‘Well, I read a science fiction novel that tells me it’s not a problem.’” But Gore’s advocacy of “solutions” for “global warming” was anything but politically neutral acceptance of expertise. As vice president until 2001, and afterward, he had done much to build a veritable industry of scientists and publicists who had spent some $50 billion, mostly in government money, during the previous decade to turn out and publicize “studies” bolstering his party’s efforts to regulate and tax in specific ways. Moreover, he claimed enough scientific knowledge to belittle his opposition for following “science fiction.” But Gore’s work was political, not scientific. Not surprisingly, some of his opponents in Congress and among scientists thought that Gore and his favorite scientists were doing well-paid science fiction.

Who was right? Gore’s opponents, led by Oklahoma senator James Inhofe, argued that the substance of the two main questions, whether the Earth was being warmed by human activities, and what if anything could and should be done about it, should be debated before the grand jury of American citizens. Gore et al. countered that “the debate is over!” and indeed that nonscientific citizens had no legitimate place in the debate. Yet he and like-minded citizens claimed to know enough to declare that it had ended. They also claimed that scientists who disagreed with them, or who merely questioned the validity of the conclusions produced by countless government science commissions to which Gore and his followers had funneled government money, and which they called “mainstream science,” were “deniers”—illegitimate. Equally out of place, they argued, were calls that they submit to tests of their scientific IQ. Whatever else one may call this line of argument, one may not call it scientific. It belongs to the genus “politics.” But, peculiarly, it is politics that aims to take matters out of the realm of politics, where citizens may decide by persuading one another, and places them in a realm where power is exercised by capturing the commanding heights of the Establishment.

Thus on July 28, 2008, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi explained to journalist David Rogers why she was right in forbidding Congress to vote on proposals by Republicans to open U.S. coastlines to oil drilling. Using fossil fuels, she explained, causes global warming. Forbidding votes that could result in more oil being used was her duty because, she said, “I’m trying to save the planet. I’m trying to save the planet.” No one would vouch for her scientific expertise. But she was surely saving an item in the agenda of her party’s constituencies, which rightly feared defeat in open debates and votes.

In the same way, in September 2008 Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Ben Bernanke told Congress and the country, backed by many in the banking business, that unless Congress authorized spending $700 billion to purchase the financial assets that the banks and investment houses considered least valuable, the entire financial system would collapse and the American people would lose their savings, jobs, homes, and so on, and that authorizing that money would avert the crisis. But none of those who proposed the expenditure explained why the failure of some large private enterprises and their subsequent sale at public auction would cause any of the abovementioned catastrophes. There was no explanation of how the money would be spent, how the assets to be bought would be valued, or why. The arguments were simply statements by experts in government as well as finance—whose repeated mistakes had brought about the failures that were at the center of contention, and whose personal interests were involved in the plan they proposed. The strength of their arguments lay solely in the position of those making them. They were the ones who were supposed to know. And when, a month later, the same Paulson, backed by the same unanimous experts, told the country that the $700 billion would be spent otherwise, and as they committed some $8 trillion somehow to shore up the rest of the economy, the arguments continued to lie in the position of those making them, combined with the clamor of those who would benefit directly from the government’s outlays. In practice, expertise—or science—has come to be defined by a government job or commission. Truth and error are incidental.

The confluence of political agendas with the attempt to describe political choices as scientific rather than political, and the attempt to delegitimize opponents as out of step with science, is clear in the 2005 book by journalist Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science. Typically, Mooney disclaims substantive scientific judgment and claims only the capacity and right to discern the “credibility” of rival scientists and their claims. Note well, however, that propositions or persons are credible—that is, worth believing—only to the extent that they are correct substantively. Arguments such as Mooney’s, Paulson’s, Pelosi’s, and Gore’s most certainly aim to convince citizens about certain substantive propositions, but—and this is key—they do so indirectly, by pretending that they find certain propositions credible and others not. Credible are the ones of which they approve, coming from persons the places of which they approve: the government bureaucracies or universities. Judgments of authoritative provenance, they argue, need not refute the opposition’s arguments, or even refer to their substance because science— meaning the Establishment—supposedly has settled the arguments intellectually to its own satisfaction, the only satisfaction that matters. Mooney writes that because “American democracy… relies heavily on scientific technical expertise to function [public officials] need to rely on the best scientific knowledge available and proceed on the basis of that knowledge to find solutions.”

Modern Republicans, he argues, have put themselves “in stark contrast with both scientific information and dispassionate, expert analysis in general.” Caught in the confluence of corporate interests and conservative ideology, primarily religion, Republicans have “skewed science” on every important question of the day, from stem cell research to “global warming, mercury pollution, condom effectiveness, the alleged health risks of abortion, and much else.” They have “cherry picked” facts and, most ominously, even cited scientists to back them up. Mooney worries: “If the American people come to believe they can find a scientist willing to say anything, they will grow increasingly disillusioned with science itself.”

Against the Grain

THAT WORRY IS SERIOUS. Convincing people that what you may teach your children, what taxes you should pay, must be decided by the “scientific” pronouncements of members of a certain class challenges the American concept of popular government all too directly. To succeed, any attempt to impose things so contrary to American life must overcome political hurdles as well as human nature itself.

Government by scientific pretense runs against the grain of politics in two ways: First, since those who would rule by scientific management eschew arguments on the substance of the things, instead relying on the cachet of the scientists whose mere servants they pretend to be, their success depends on maintaining a pretense of substantive neutrality on the issues—the pretense that if “science” were to pronounce itself in the other direction, they would follow with the same alacrity. But this position is impossible to maintain against the massive evidence that those who hawk certain kinds of social or environmental policies in the name of science are first of all partisans of those policies, indeed that these policies are part of the identity of their sociopolitical class.

Second, it is inherently difficult for anyone who fancies himself a citizen to hear from another that he is not qualified to disagree with a judgment said to be scientific. Naturally, he will ask: If I as a layman don’t know enough to disagree, what does that other layman know that qualifies him to agree? Could it be that his appeal to science is just another way of telling me to shut up because he is better than I, and that he is justifying his presumption by pointing to his friends in high places?

The most important claims made on behalf of science often run against human nature, none more so than its central claim about the nature of humanity. On December 20, 2005, deciding the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, federal district court judge James Jones prohibited the Dover, Pennsylvania, schools from teaching the possibility that human beings are the result not of chance but of “intelligent design.” To partisan applause, he ruled that science had shown, proved, that all life, including human life, is the result of chance, that it is meaningless, that entertaining the possibility of the opposite is religion, and that doing so in a public school amounts to the “establishment of religion,” and hence is prohibited by the First Amendment.

Leave aside the absurdity of maintaining that the authors of the U.S. Constitution entertained any part of this reasoning. Consider: since everyone knows that nobody reallyknows how life, particularly human life, came about (cf. the legal meaning of the word “knowledge”), any attempt to impose as official truth the counterintuitive proposition that human life is meaningless discredits itself. It is impossible to suppress the natural reaction: “How the hell do they know?”

Human nature rebels especially violently against those who pretend to special knowledge but who then prove inept, whose prescriptions bring misery. When politicians lay out their reasons why something should or should not be done, when the public accepts those reasons, and then the ensuing measures bring grief, the public’s anger is tempered by its own participation in the decision, and is poured out on the ideas themselves as well as on the politicians who espoused them. But when the politicians make big changes in economic and social life on the basis of “science” beyond the people’s capacity to understand, when events show them to have been wrong, when those changes impoverish and degrade life, then popular anger must crash its full force only on those who made themselves solely responsible. The failed sorcerers’ apprentices’ excuse “science made me do it” will only add scorn to retribution.

Aussies Are Talking About DownWind, & Tim Hudak, and Wishing him Well!

Sun New’s “Down Wind” sends Wind Industry Into Tail Spin

down wind

Canada’s Sun News was among the first news outfits worldwide to grasp the scale and scope of the great wind power fraud; and the associated harm inflicted on hard-working rural people. Exposing the wind industry for what it is, Sun has produced a truly ground-breaking documentary on how wind power outfits have fleeced power consumers for $billions, while happily destroying the lives hundreds of farming families across Ontario (see our post here).

The documentary, “Down Wind” went to air on 4 June and has sent the wind industry and its parasites into a panic stricken tail spin. Not used to an “untamed” media challenging their lies, treachery and deceit, the industry’s chief spin doctors have launched a bitter defence, replete with all the usual guilt-soaked waffle about giant fans “saving the planet from cataclysmic climate change”. Never mind that the wind industry has yet to produce a shred of actual data that wind power reduces CO2 emissions in the electricity generation sector – probably because the actual evidence shows just the reverse (see this European paper here; this Irish paper here; this English paper here; and this Dutch study here).

Down Wind, which runs for 96 minutes, can be purchased as a file and downloaded or as a DVD (here’s the link).

Here is a detailed synopsis of Down Wind from wolfhillblog.com.

Dirty secrets of the Ontario Liberals’ wind power scam: What you need to know from DownWind, the Sun News documentary
Wolfhillblog: Fauxgreen
8 June 2014

THE ONTARIO LIBERALS’ GREEN ENERGY ACT HAS DONE SERIOUS AND IRREVERSIBLE HARM TO PEOPLE, WILDLIFE, THE ENVIRONMENT

  • Rural people in Ontario living in the midst of 50 storey-high industrial wind turbines have been badly hurt, even seriously and irreversibly harmed, with respect to mental and physical health and safety, property values (loss of 10-48% or even 100%), livelihood, way of life, community harmony. Some families have had to leave their homes on the advice of doctors.
  • Farmers have noticed that wind turbines drive out earthworms due to electrical surge charges and vibrations. This reduces the quality of the soil. “Food production will go down.”
  • The wind turbines’ concrete bases, of which some of the material is toxic, go 50 feet down, far enough to hit aquifers.
  • Livestock productivity, such as that of dairy cattle, is adversely affected.
  • Birds are slaughtered by wind turbines.

THE LIBERALS HAVE PRESIDED OVER ABROGATION OF DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS AND BULLYING BY WIND COMPANIES

  • “The provincial government wants these things and they’re going to come no matter what we do.”
  • “(As high as) 140-50 storey buildings – you don’t even have that in Toronto. We’re talking 1,800 turbines up and down the shoreline (of Lake Huron), on some of the most productive farmland in all of Ontario. My God, what are you people thinking? Don’t tell us from your condo that the green thing is so great that we’re going to force it on you.”
  • The Liberals’ Green Energy Act supersedes/overrides 21 pieces of legislation including the Clean Water Act, acts that protect the Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine, the Heritage Act.
  • All Ontario government ministries have turned a deaf ear to complaints and concerns communicated to “every arm of the Ontario government when they asked for help. The wind companies do whatever they want.”
  • The Liberals’ Green Energy Act strips municipalities of their planning powers. More than 80 communities have declared themselves to be unwilling hosts.

THE SYSTEM IS RIGGED AGAINST WIND TURBINE VICTIMS

  • There have been more than 20 Environmental Review Tribunal hearings of appeals and all of them were dismissed. One was allowed but appealed in Ontario Divisional Court where the wind developer prevailed. “The process they’ve created is so imbalanced and so weighted in favour of the wind turbine companies it’s as if they wrote the legislation. It’s embarrassing.”
  • Wind turbines “are imposed on people and they are getting no choice. That begs the question of whether it’s Charter-compliant, whether it complies with constitutional principles to put these people through these things without being assured of a certain level of safety. No one should be subjected to a reasonable risk of harm.”

WIND POWER IS FAR FROM CLEAN

  • “When they talk about displacing coal-fire power plants in Ontario with wind, that’s not actually what happens. As they add wind capacity to the system, they are displacing nuclear and hydro and those are non-emitting sources. And you have to remember that whenever you see a wind turbine, there is a gas-fire power plant running in the background to balance out the load fluctuations. So it’s always a wind and gas combination. They’re replacing emissions-free hydro and nuclear with a combination of wind and gas and we’ll actually end up with higher emissions of pollution …”
  • “So you’re paying for a wind turbine to turn, and you’re paying for a gas plant to idle. You’re paying double most of the time. It’s asinine.”

THE LIBERALS HAVE USED JUNK SCIENCE TO MISLEAD THE PUBLIC

  • Air pollution levels in Ontario have declined steadily since 1974, but the Liberals claimed in 2009 when the Green Energy Act came into force that there was a rising air pollution crisis. “But they knew perfectly well that air pollution had been trending downward right across the board.”
  • Most particulate matter emissions come not from coal power generation, as the Liberals claimed, but from construction, industry, agriculture, and most of all from dust from unpaved roads.
  • “There’s no question that there’s been an effort to demonize coal.”

BILLIONS OF YOUR DOLLARS WASTED ON LIBERAL BOONDOGGLES

  • Ontario electricity costs are the highest in North America as a result of the the Liberals’ Green Energy Act.
  • “Wind turbines don’t run on wind, they run on subsidies.”
  • They replace power that costs 3-5 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh) with wind power that costs 13.5 cents per kwh to generate.
  • “Nobody was building wind turbines in Ontario until the government started throwing money at it. It’s not cost effective. Wind turbines can’t compete on a wholesale market without a lot of government support.”
  • Wind companies get 20-year contracts to sell wind power at far above market rates.
  • “The system has to buy power whenever wind companies produce it” whereas standard power producers (nuclear, hydro) have to compete on the wholesale market.
  • Ontario lost $1 billion selling excess power in 2013 to neighbouring jurisdictions – “How stupid is that?”
  • The cost of the Green Energy Act to date is $4-5 billion, or 70 times the cost of retrofits recommended in 2005, to get equivalent environmental benefits. (Some estimates say the Green Energy Act costs so far are closer to $8 billion.)
  • Before the Green Energy Act, Ontario had a few large power plants with the grid optimized to source the power. “Now we have “tiny, little unreliable” wind facilities that required a new grid, putting an “extra cost to get something we already had – it increased the costs of having what you had before.”
  • “There were far smarter ways of creating energy. If we had done nothing except put the most advanced scrubbers on our coal plants we would actually have had as clean air as we do today.”

THE LIBERALS FAILED TO PERFORM DUE DILIGENCE, OR UPHOLD ITS FIDUCIARY DUTY

  • The Liberal government has to date done no cost benefit analysis, and no health study.
  • The much-anticipated Health Canada two-year, $2 million research study of the adverse health effects of wind turbines is due in December of this year. However, it will apparently not establish causation or have conclusive results.
  • The 550-metre set-back for siting industrial wind turbines from homes, established by the Ontario government, is arbitrary and was not based on any research.

HYPOCRISY, DISHONESTY

  • In her current election campaign ads, Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne says she believes “government should be a force for good in people’s lives.” In her campaign she claims “I believe there is only one good reason to enter politics, and that is to help people,” yet the documentary showed her not to have had the basic decency to stop to listen when she was approached by industrial wind turbine victim Norma Schmidt.

FLAGRANT CONFLICT OF INTEREST – LIBERAL FRIENDS CASHING IN

  • Mike Crawley, erstwhile president of the Ontario Liberal party, a former senior aide to former premier Dalton McGuinty, was at the same time CEO of a major wind developer that was proposing four or five projects in Ontario. In 2004 he was awarded a contract worth $475 million, in addition to others.

LIBERALS GOT IN BED WITH GREEN NGOS, WIND INDUSTRY, BAY STREET LAWYERS TO WRITE THE GREEN ENERGY ACT

  • “They all sat down and worked up the language they wanted in the legislation and built a campaign around it. You got the complete package: the PR side, the legislation drafting, the program to re-educate the public service, the whole momentum going, the Toronto Star editorial page cranking out a regular drumbeat – coal bad, wind good.”

FEAR AND COWARDICE – INDUSTRY INSIDERS ARE AFRAID TO SPEAK OUT

  • People in the system have not dared to speak out.
  • “There were people in the power generation sector who understood that the government numbers were not correct and did not add up, but they were effectively muzzled. The people that work in the power sector know that this is a crazy system. These wind farms are displacing hydro-electricity, which is just a waste on every level. The hydro-electricity plants don’t generate any air pollution emissions. They give us reliable, predictable base load power and now we let (them) sit idle. So people who work in the sector, they can see what is going on and they know that this is a waste but for understandable reasons they are not about to make a big noise about it because they could lose their jobs if they do.”
  • “Our electricity system, to the people that run it, has become a joke, and they dare not raise a finger to oppose it.”
  • “The electricity industry professionals will see the wasted generation … and their response is ‘so long as we have a blank cheque to keep the lights on, it’s all good’.”

THE LIBERALS “HAVE GOT TOO MUCH INVESTED TO ADMIT THE ERROR”

In the upcoming Ontario election on June 12, any vote for the Liberals would appear to be one in favour of propping up a government that has proven itself to be working to enrich its cronies with the province’s treasure, not one that is interested in the welfare of the people it is mandated to serve, or in nurturing the economic health of the province. Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has promised to repeal the Green Energy Act if elected.
Wolfhillblog.com

In Tim Hudak, Ontario has been given a choice; and a chance to redress the lunacy currently being delivered by the hard-green-left (see our post here). We wish them luck on 12 June – sanity can’t some soon enough.

tim-hudak

We’ve Known this All Along, But Now, They’re Going to Prove it!

McGuinty government changed

green energy rules

to benefit Liberal-linked firms,

court filing charges.

“The treatment of Mesa in this case is just another episode in a saga of maladministration, scandal, political interference, manipulation and contempt for the rule of law that dominated Ontario until the resignation of the Premier [McGuinty] early in 2013,” a court filing states.

Jason Kryk/Postmedia News/Files“The treatment of Mesa in this case is just another episode in a saga of maladministration, scandal, political interference, manipulation and contempt for the rule of law that dominated Ontario until the resignation of the Premier [McGuinty] early in 2013,” a court filing states.

A U.S. wind power developer that is seeking $653-million in damages under a NAFTA challenge accuses the government of Ontario of manipulating Green Energy Act rules to benefit the interests of Liberal-connected firms, according to court documents obtained by the National Post.

The court filing, recently made public in the case that pits Mesa Power, a Texas-based developer owned by U.S. financier T. Boone Pickens, against the government, alleges Ontario replaced “transparent” criteria for the selection of energy projects with “political favoritism, cronyism and local preference.”

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesU.S. financier T. Boone Pickens

At issue in the NAFTA arbitration are changes made to the Green Energy Act in 2011. They allowed wind developers a brief window in which they could change the location at which their proposed projects would connect to the transmission grid. NextEra, a multinational renewables firm that was represented to the government by lobbyist Bob Lopinksi, a former senior staffer in the office of Dalton McGuinty, changed their connection points and was eventually awarded more than $2-billion worth of power contracts. Mesa Power says in its court filing that the change effectively bumped its projects out of line, costing it sunk costs and lost future profits.

“The rules were changed to suit one applicant to the detriment of another,” the court document claims.

“The rules change was also specifically designed with NextEra in mind,” says the 243-page NAFTA document called the Memorial of the Investor. It was filed last year but released publicly last month. “On a number of occasions,” the document says, “the Minister of Energy’s Office took explicit steps to ensure the process was being executed to the benefit of NextEra.”

“NextEra also gained assistance through the Ontario Premier’s office,” the filing alleges. “The Premier’s office injected itself into the [Feed-in-Tariff] program, and began expressing its political preferences for matters that where entirely within the regulatory realm of the [Ontario Power Authority].

The Mesa Power document also claims that NextEra “had direct access to the Premier’s Office.” It says that NextEra met with former McGuinty aides Jamison Steeve and Sean Mullin in October, 2010. Both men would later be involved in the negotiations surrounding the cancellation of gas-plants in the greater Toronto area and the payments to the affected firms.

Opposition critics of the Green Energy Act have long contended that the governing Liberals used explosive growth in renewable energy since 2009 to steer contracts toward favoured firms and Liberal insiders. Various companies have also taken the government to court over the frequent changes to the Feed-in-Tariff program, but the government has maintained that it is allowed to make policy changes even if they negatively impact green-energy investors. Ontario also lost a WTO ruling that found the “domestic content” requirements in the Green Energy Act discriminated against foreign-owned firms and were a violation of trade agreements.

“The treatment of Mesa in this case,” the court filing says, “is just another episode in a saga of maladministration, scandal, political interference, manipulation and contempt for the rule of law that dominated Ontario until the resignation of the Premier [McGuinty] early in 2013.”

Ontario, which is represented at the NAFTA tribunal by the government of Canada, says in its filing that “there is no evidence to support the claimant’s allegations.”

“In managing and implementing procurement processes, decision-makers are often forced to make adjustments at key junctures … to best satisfy the policy objectives of government,” the government filing says. “Such adjustments often result in winners and losers …  as changes operate to the benefit of some and detriment of others.”

The government response dismisses claims of “wrong-doing” and says the changes that impacted Mesa Power were “nothing more than a commercial consequence of legitimate policy choices.”

A decision on the NAFTA arbitration is expected in the fall.

National Post

If Wynne Told the Truth, This is What You’d Hear!

Wynne’s Budget Fortells Biggest Ontario Cuts Since Harris

Photographer: Galit Rodan/Bloomberg

Kathleen Wynne, premier of Ontario, center, arrives to speak at the Bloomberg Economic… Read More

Premier Kathleen Wynne is presenting Ontario’s June 12 election as a stark choice between her Liberal economic stimulus plan and her main rival’s vow to cut 100,000 government jobs.

Yet Wynne’s own budget documents show this year’s spending surge will be followed by the deepest freeze in two decades.

After boosting program spending by C$3 billion ($2.8 billion) this year, the Liberal Party leader plans to hold the line the next three years in a bid to eliminate the deficit. Given population growth, a 2017 Liberal government would drop spending by the most per person since former Premier Mike Harris won election on deficit elimination in 1995.

“She’s not talking about war with the public sector unions, but that’s what those numbers imply to me,” said Bryne Purchase, a professor of policy studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and former deputy minister of finance during the Harris years. “I think the reality is a lot of strikes in the public sector.”

Wynne, 61, has been walking a tightrope since becoming Premier in 2013. She relented on wage concessions Liberal predecessor Dalton McGuinty was demanding from public sector unions, particularly teachers. Meanwhile, she has pledged to eliminate the deficit after letting it grow this year to fund a fresh round of stimulus spending.

Photographer: Galit Rodan/Bloomberg

Hudak is proposing immediate and deeper cuts to balance the books. Under the… Read More

Deeper Cuts

“We’re dealing with a situation that requires at this moment that we make investments to ensure we have the steady economic growth that we need,” she said in a leader’s debate. She has spoken little about the spending restraint that subsequently flows from her budgetary promises. The premier has contrasted her plan with Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s, who is proposing immediate and deeper cuts to balance the books. Under the Conservative platform, the deficit would be eliminated one year earlier.

Wynne and Hudak will meet at 6:30 p.m. for a televised debate along with New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath.

Hudak, 46, was first elected under the Harris small-government banner at a time when the province also was grappling with a large deficit. Harris cut welfare payments, fired nurses, closed hospitals and provoked a teachers’ strike.

Under his government, per capita spending fell by C$387 per person between 1995 and 1998, before adjusting for inflation, according to Statistics Canada data. When inflation is taken into account, Harris’ cuts would have amounted to C$533 per person today, the data show.

Less Draconian

The Liberal budget is less draconian yet takes the province in the same direction.

Under the Liberal plan, program spending will rise to C$119.4 billion this year and peak at C$120.2 billion in two years before returning to this year’s level in 2017-18.

The budget would reduce spending per capita by about C$179 below 2013 levels, according to Bloomberg calculations drawn from forecasts in the Liberal budget presented May 2 and the Ontario ministry of finance’s population projections.

The lower per capita spending won’t mean a reduction in services, according to Susie Heath, a spokeswoman for the campaign.

“As part of meeting our targets, we have provided no additional funding for compensation within the budget,” she said in an e-mail. “Any modest wage increases that are negotiated must be absorbed by employers within available funding and within our fiscal plan.” ​

Hudak is casting doubt on Wynne’s willingness to follow through with cuts. “That looks to me like a short-term pitch to win votes, but very poor fiscal management,” he said in a May 27 interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office. “They simply don’t have a plan to balance the budget. They haven’t put a single idea on the table.”

Wary Unions

Ontario’s large public sector unions have largely refrained from attacking Wynne. Some are wary, though, of what will happen after the election, especially given past skirmishes with McGuinty over his efforts to tackle the persistent deficit.

“The nurses of Ontario already took a two year wage freeze, I believe we have done our duty,” Linda Haslam-Stroud, president of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, a union with more than 60,000 members, said in a May 27 phone interview. “The government that’s going to be in play is going to have to take a long hard look at how much they believe they can continue to squeeze out of the hospitals.”

Although he prefers Wynne’s spending freeze to Hudak’s cuts, James Ryan, head of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, which represents 45,000 teachers, said the zero wage growth would impose a de facto pay cut thanks to inflation.

Credit Rating

“It would be incredibly unlikely that we would agree to a freeze for that long,” he said in a May 30 interview. “The government may have to change its plans in the future.”

On the other side of the equation, debt rating agencies could penalize the province for a failure to formulate and stick to a credible deficit-reduction program, creating an even bigger drain on government finances.

“Ontario has a really tough program-spending challenge to meet, and the question with their credit rating is, are they actually going to have the resolve to meet that,” Robert Kavcic, an economist at Bank of Montreal, said. “There’s basically zero public sector wage increases built into that budget.”

Ontario’s credit rating was downgraded in 2012 by Moody’s Investors Service as debt grew and the economy worsened. Now, two out of four major rating firms have Ontario at the bottom rung of the AA range. Standard & Poor’s is leaning toward a downgrade with a negative outlook on its rating.

Cost Controls

In the U.S. bond market, falling from the AA to the A range for a foreign government means borrowing costs almost 1 percentage point higher on average, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch data. A 1 percentage point increase would cost Ontario an additional C$400 million a year in interest payments, according to budget documents.

At C$10.6 billion, interest payments on the province’s debt load accounts for the majority of the estimated C$11.3 billion deficit last year, the documents show.

The Liberal deficit-fighting strategy pairs cost controls with increased revenue from higher taxes and a stronger economy with a search for C$1.25 billion in savings over the next three years, which the party hasn’t identified yet.

The Liberals have already succeeded in making services more efficient, placing more pressure going forward on reining in wage costs, said Michael Yake, the Moody’s analyst covering Ontario.

“You can find efficiencies relatively easier at the beginning because that’s when the programs perhaps weren’t being well managed,” he said in an interview. “Once the low hanging fruit, once those easy items to identify have been captured it becomes harder where else to find efficiencies.”

With 50 percent to 55 percent of each ministry’s budget going to wages that will put more pressure for departments to chose between fewer staff or lower wages, he said.

We Desperately Need a Conservative Gov’t to Repair Damage Done by Liberals!

National Post editorial board: A Conservative government for Ontario

National Post Editorial Board | June 7, 2014 12:01 AM ET

We believe Mr. Hudak is the principled, competent, strong-willed and compassionate fiscal conservative Ontario needs.

Tyler Anderson/National PostWe believe Mr. Hudak is the principled, competent, strong-willed and compassionate fiscal conservative Ontario needs.

It is difficult to overstate just how richly the Ontario Liberals deserve to be removed from office. It is difficult even to know where to begin.

As managers of public services they are, in the most charitable interpretation, famously inept. Witness the scandal at ORNGE, the non-profit set up to run the province’s air ambulance service, which soon devolved into a byzantine scheme to redirect public money into various private wallets. Witness the scandal at eHealth, which the auditor general found to have spent $1-billion comprehensively bungling efforts to create an electronic health records system. Witness former premier Dalton McGuinty’s signature green-energy initiative, which has seen electricity rates skyrocket even as the province exports electricity at a huge loss.

Indeed, Ontario’s Liberals are incredibly cavalier with public money. Witness the disbursement of some $30-million in grants to multicultural organizations, many with Liberal ties, in many cases based simply on ministers’ requests. (Who can forget the Ontario Cricket Association asking for $150,000 and getting $1-million?) Witness, most egregiously, the epic squandering of $1-billion to cancel two locally unpopular gas-fired power plants — plants Mr. McGuinty had unctuously defended against NIMBYism until he decided a few Liberal seats might be at risk, at which point he eliminated them with the stroke of a pen and his office busied itself covering up the matter. (Police are investigating. On Thursday they served a court order for documents at Queen’s Park, and confirmed they had questioned Mr. McGuinty.)

Simon Hayter for National Post

Simon Hayter for National PostViolence breaks out between white residents of Caledonia, native protestors and the O. P. P. at the Native barricade in Caledonia on Monday, May 22 2006.

When violent aboriginal protesters occupied the town of Caledonia in 2006, Mr. McGuinty’s government instructed the provincial police force to stand down, and eventually caved to the thugs outright — buying the land, and embattled homeowners’ silence, on the public dime. (During the 2011 election campaign, he told the National Post’s editorial board he was proud of how he handled the issue.)

And if a decade of amoral, path-of-least-resistance ineptitude isn’t enough, just consider the bottom line. In 2004-05, the first full year of Liberal governance, Ontario’s net debt per capita was $11,373. Today it stands at $19,881, an increase of 75%. As a share of GDP, Ontario’s debt has risen from 27% to 39%. Among large provinces, only Quebec can play in that league — and on Wednesday Premier Philippe Couillard unveiled a budget that sets the stage for the tough choices that province will need to make to keep the bond raters at bay.

When Conservative leader Tim Hudak pressed Ms. Wynne for specific examples of how she would cut spending, she could only stammer something about more government investment

We can hardly say the same of the budget Ms. Wynne tabled on May 1, and which she promises to reintroduce within 20 days of reelection. It maintains the Liberal promise of a balanced budget by 2017-18. But it does so while significantly inflating projected deficits in the meantime, completely abandoning Mr. McGuinty’s late-days commitment to belt-tightening — notably a wage freeze for public sector workers — and offering precious little explanation as to how it would manage to get spending under control. In a damaging segment of Tuesday night’s leaders debate, when Conservative leader Tim Hudak pressed Ms. Wynne for specific examples of how she would cut spending, she could only stammer something about more government investment.

It’s not even clear we can expect any improvement from Ms. Wynne on the ethics file: She is currently defending the emergency $300-million bailout of a failed government-backed office building project in downtown Toronto as just another real estate deal. And having promised never again to direct public money toward partisan purposes, she abruptly committed billions to a subway project into east-end Toronto, replacing a light rail project the Liberals had supported — conveniently enough, right in the middle of a local byelection campaign.

The sensible alternative to re-electing the Liberals yet again is clearly Mr. Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives. Mr. Hudak has mounted an unusually and admirably blunt campaign premised on Ontario’s desperate need for austerity. He promises to balance the budget in two years. His platform, wisely, is focused entirely on job-creation. But instead of throwing money at businesses to create jobs they might or might not have created anyway, as the Liberals do proudly, Mr. Hudak proposes a more egalitarian sort of incentive — lowering Ontario’s corporate tax rate from 11.5% to 8%, wrestling down electricity costs (in part through winding down the Liberals’ green energy policies) and cutting regulation.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole BurstonTeachers carry picket signs outside then-premier Dalton McGuinty’s office on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012 in Ottawa.

Mr. Hudak also promises, though not in so many words, war with Ontario’s public sector unions. He proposes paring the public sector workforce significantly through attrition, contracting out and eliminating needless middle management — though he notes that this would serve merely to take us back to 2009 staffing levels. He promises a two-year wage freeze, across the board, no exceptions — not even for the Ontario Provincial Police Association, which has responded with a shameful hissy-fit attack ad campaign. He would shutter the College of Trades, a needless level of union-friendly bureaucracy, and return regulation to the government’s direct purview where it belongs. And he would scrap the outrageous arbitration framework that awards public sector contracts with no consideration of the government’s ability to pay.

Notwithstanding some of the glitches in Mr. Hudak’s campaign materials, he brings a common sense perspective to governance that Ontario desperately needs — and not just on the baseline fiscal issues that are critical for Ontario’s future. To take just three examples: In opposition, the Tories have supported imposing limits on third-party election advertising, the lack of which allows the labour movement to vastly outspend the parties themselves in a thinly veiled campaign for the Liberals; placing skill, commitment and other professional qualities above seniority as criteria for hiring teachers; and adding a dram of competition to Ontario’s bizarre and sclerotic liquor retail system.

In short, we believe Mr. Hudak is the principled, competent, strong-willed and compassionate fiscal conservative Ontario needs.

National Post

No End In Sight, To Liberal Scandals and Corruption!

News / Ontario Election 2014

Ontario auditor general investigating government loans to MaRS

Ontario’s auditor general is investigating provincial government

loans to MaRS, but says the probe was planned before the $317 million

bailout erupted into an election issue last week.

Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk is auditing Infrastructure Ontario’s loans program, including loans to the MaRS research organization.

FRANK GUNN / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk is auditing Infrastructure Ontario’s loans program, including loans to the MaRS research organization.

WELLAND, ONT.—Ontario’s auditor general is investigating provincial government loans to MaRS, but says the probe was planned before the $317 million bailout erupted into an election issue last week.

A letter from auditor general Bonnie Lysyk to New Democrat MPP Gilles Bisson — who asked for a probe last week fearing an abuse of tax dollars — reveals an examination has been in the works.

“As it happens, we are currently conducting an audit of Infrastructure Ontario’s loans program and the scope of that audit includes the loan made to facilitate completion of the MaRS Phase 2 building, the subject of your concerns,” Lysyk wrote in a letter dated Tuesday.

“The results of our audit will be published in our annual report this December,” added Lysyk.

“You have raised a number of questions that we will consider in drafting the chapter covering this audit.”

The brand new building, also the subject of concerns from the Progressive Conservatives, is on the southeast corner of College St. and University Ave., across from Queen’s Park.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath applauded the auditor general’s probe Thursday during a campaign stop in Welland.

“I’m glad the auditor general is doing an investigation. It’s good she’s doing that,” Horwath told reporters at Giant FM, a classic rock radio station, where she promised to extend the Ontario ombudsman’s powers to include hospitals, long-term care and the troubled ORNGE air ambulance service along with closing a loophole allowing “partisan” government ads online within 30 days the election.

MaRS, which stands for medical and related sciences, is a registered charity set up as an innovation and research hub. The organization was in danger of missing payments on a $234 million loan made by the province in 2011 to finance the new building, with the money to be paid back with rental income from tenants.

But finding tenants has been difficult and the building has a 69 per cent vacancy rate, with internal government documents stating MaRS was a risk of “default, foreclosure and fiscal writedowns” over the building’s poor finances.

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne’s campaign has said no deal to buy the building has been finalized. The matter was to be discussed on May 13 at a Treasury Board meeting that was delayed by the election call that has voters heading to the polls next week.

Wynne downplayed the issue at a campaign stop in Mississauga.

“The auditor general, in the regular course of preparing her report, was already looking at some of the Infrastructure Ontario issues,” she said.

Wynne’s campaign issued a statement accusing Horwath, who is third place in the polls, of attempting to “revive her struggling campaign by deceiving reporters” about a process in which the auditor general conducts value-for-money audits of a wide range of government programs.

Bisson said last week the Liberal plan was tantamount to “secret payments on the eve of an election” and comparable to former premier Dalton McGuinty’s decision to scrap gas-fired power plants before the 2011 election that reduced his Liberals to a minority.

“This kind of abuse of tax dollars during an election is precisely what we saw from Dalton McGuinty, and it’s exactly what we are seeing now from Kathleen Wynne,” he added.

“The same Liberal government pegged the relocation of the gas plants at $40 million before the auditor general revealed the true cost was $1.1 billion.”

In a news release Thursday the NDP said the bailout makes little sense because the government’s spring budget — which Horwath and Conservative Leader Tim Hudak refused to support, plunging Ontario into an election — pledged to eliminate one million square feet of office space.

Wynne Should “Come Clean”….Before the Election!

News / Ontario Election 2014

Hudak, Horwath demand release of gas plant documents before election

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne must step in to make sure documents sought by police investigating the gas plants scandal are made public immediately for voters to see, opposition parties demanded Friday.

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne’s campaign says it's up to legislative staff, not politicians or political staff, to release documents requested by provincial police related to the deleted emails probe.

STEVE RUSSELL / TORONTO STAR Order this photo

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne’s campaign says it’s up to legislative staff, not politicians or political staff, to release documents requested by provincial police related to the deleted emails probe.

Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne must step in to make sure documents sought by police investigating the gas plants scandal are made public immediately for voters to see, opposition parties demanded Friday.

The call came after the election campaign, in its final week, was jolted by revelations the OPP anti-rackets squad is seeking more detail in its probe into deleted emails.

Police made their request Thursday to legislative staff, not the premier’s office, with a 10-day deadline — but the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats insisted Wynne intervene given that voters are heading to the polls next Thursday.

“She has an obligation to do everything she can to make sure those documents get released,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told a news conference at Queen’s Park.

“I’m sure a call from Kathleen Wynne will speed up the process. We shouldn’t have to wait until after June 12.”

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak agreed the public needs time to “digest” any information before heading to the polls.

“It is quite extraordinary that the elite anti-rackets squad from the OPP has to investigate the premier’s office in the first place,” Hudak told reporters following a breakfast speech to the Mississauga Board of Trade.

Hudak said because details on the gas plants scandal still remain secret he would call for a judicial inquiry into all aspects of the billion dollar spending scandals within the first 100 days of his government if the Tories are successful on June 12.

But until that happens, Hudak called for the same additional documents the OPP has asked for to be released publicly “because it’s the public whose trust has been betrayed by Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne on the gas plants scandal.”

“Just a few days ago I stood in a room with Kathleen Wynne for our televised leaders’ debate . . . and I saw her look into the camera and say that’s she’s different, that she’s changed things, that she would reveal all documents and that she was sorry. This tells us that they weren’t revealing all documents,” he said.

“Voters aren’t going to stand for a coverup. They want answers.”

Wynne’s campaign noted the OPP request was directed to legislative staff, not politicians or political staff. As such the matter is in the hands of legislative assembly administrators, they maintain.

It’s not clear whether any release of the information in question would interfere with the police investigation.

Wynne said Friday that the Liberals have “learned” lessons from the gas plants debacle, which could cost up to $1.1 billion over the next 20 years as plants slated for Oakville and Mississauga were cancelled before the 2011 election. The plants are being relocated to Sarnia and Napanee.

In her first public comments since it emerged the OPP interviewed McGuinty — but are not investigating him — Wynne said she introduced safeguards after taking over from him on Feb. 11, 2013.

“I’ve made sure that we changed the rules, that we actually put in place structures and laws, quite frankly,” she told CityTV’s Breakfast Television.

“The government didn’t continue but we had introduced legislation. We had changed the process around siting gas plants, energy infrastructure, the rules around document retention,” the Liberal leader said.

“We have learned from what happened. Doesn’t mean it should have happened. Not a good thing that it happened. But we have learned from it and made changes and those changes are what will ensure it won’t happen again.”

Her comments came after the OPP anti-rackets squad confirmed Thursday night that it met with the former premier in April.

OPP Detective Inspector Paul Beesley told the Star on Thursday night that McGuinty has been helpful to his probe.

“Dalton McGuinty has been co-operative with the OPP investigators and he is not the subject of our investigation at this time,” said Beesley, the anti-rackets squad detective in charge of the case.

On Thursday, the OPP says it “obtained a production order from the court in Ottawa for certain documents in relation to this ongoing investigation which it served on employees of the Ontario legislature in Toronto.”

Police are investigating allegations of deleted documents related to his cancellation of gas-fired power plants in Mississauga and Oakville before the 2011 election.

No charges have been laid and nothing has been proven in court.

McGuinty being interviewed is not surprising because the OPP has indicated he would be, but the revelation comes as Ontarians head to the polls next Thursday in an election that public opinion surveys suggest is too close to call.