Opinion

Liberals like an octopus trying to roller skate

By Jim Merriam

Marie-France Lalonde, Ontario's new Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, talks to media at Queen's Park in Toronto on January 12, 2017. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)

Marie-France Lalonde, Ontario's new Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, talks to media at Queen's Park in Toronto on January 12, 2017. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)

Here's how one of the cable-news experts last week described the job of observing the White House fumbling to explain the FBI director firing.

"It's like watching an octopus trying to put on his shoes," said the analyst. It was a funny line that clearly illustrates what's going on.

The octopus analogy should make Canadians happy we live north of the 49th parallel -- except for those of us in Ontario, where our government shenanigans are like watching a cousin of the U.S. octopus try to roller skate up a ski jump.

Almost weekly, we learn that members of this government are like their counterparts in the U.S. -- they don't appear to have a clue.

Last week, Global Television did an excellent investigative series on the pitiful state of the probation system in the province. Criminals on probation for the most heinous crimes are seldom or ever subject to checks in the real world.

They report to their probation officers and then go off to do whatever it is they like to do.

The situation is so bad that there are 4,500 outstanding warrants for alleged probation and conditional- sentence violations in Ontario. Offenders describe the system as a joke.

Marie-France Lalonde, Ontario's minister of community safety and correctional services said that she would need to look into that number further, "To know that number, what it means, who are those individuals?"

In other words, "Well, I guess it's time someone in my department actually did their job."

Next, we hear about the new labour legislation to be introduced any day easing the path to unionization, setting rules on excessive use of part-time workers, etc.

Some of this, particularly the part-time worker rules, might be needed. But bear in mind this is coming from a government that is already seen as unfriendly to business, in part because of high electricity rates.

If businesses flee to other jurisdictions, there will be no work, part-time or otherwise. So this is ground that must be trod very carefully. In other words, it's beyond the capabilities of this bunch.

This week, we also got confirmation of what we all knew, that the 25 per cent savings on our power bills promised by this government won't last long.

The money is still owed and must be paid back sometime after the next election and guess who is going to do the paying with higher rates?

A leaked government paper proves what we all knew. The Wynne government has done nothing to fix the power system in the province. They've just played fast and loose with the numbers once again.

Queen's Park also is experimenting with a guaranteed-income plan to take the place of welfare. It's difficult to see how such a plan will work with the dark cloud of debt that hangs over the province.

In addition, the province is selling off more of Hydro One -- a major move for which the Grits have no mandate from the people -- for a reported $2.8 billion.

Sounds like a lot of money, right? It's enough to pay debt-service charges until about the time schools re-open this fall.

Those are, of course, schools that survived closure due to Queen's Park anti-student and anti-rural rules.

With debt heading toward $320 billion and a government that cares only about its own survival, our octopus is clinging precariously to the bottom edge of the ski jump.

When he falls, how many of us will he take with him?

jmerriam@bmts.com