Do not think about, write about or deal with human behavior without determining the effects of incentives. It’s not their money, of course they’ll waste it.
This is a local story, but, like almost every local story, it has a universal theme–governments pandering to its own unions. There is a class struggle, but it’s between those favoured by the government and those who pay for the favours.
National Post – (Latest Edition)
If it’s not illegal, it should be
The Ontario Liberals spend hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure the unions remain relatively quiescent and co-operative corruption is a strong word, which we don’t often use in canada when it comes to politics. It infers a blatant disregard for honesty, ethics or principle. but it’s the word that springs to mind when you contemplate the insidious relationship between Ontario’s Liberal government and the teachers unions they do so much to cultivate and please.
How else to describe it? The Liberals spend hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure the unions remain relatively quiescent and co-operative, offering rich contracts, special treatment, secret agreements and generous payoffs with public dollars. In return the unions spend millions undermining the government’s opponents and working to ensure the Liberals stay in power.
Public servants, uninterested servants of the public who can elect their own benefactors.
It’s a relationship that has grown increasingly rotten over time and may have reached an apogee with the recent revelations of a $2.5 million payment to three unions to cover their costs of bargaining with the provincial government over a new contract. The brazenness of it alone suggests the Liberals have lost any hint of rectitude when it comes to the handling of public money — though they did do their best to hide the transaction, suggesting that, at some level, they still sense it’s offensive, wrong and abusive of the public trust.
Not that those concerns stopped them. Indeed, education Minister Liz Sandals’ response has been a show of public arrogance that takes the breath away. Asked if she’d demanded receipts to justify the $2.5 million paid to the unions for high school, French and catholic teachers, she offered a reply that drips with contempt: “We know what hotel rooms cost, we know what meeting rooms cost, we know what the food costs, we know what 100 pizzas cost,” she said. “you don’t need to see every bill when you’re doing an estimate of costs. I don’t ask.”
It may surprise the minister to learn that Ontarians also know the price of pizza and hotel rooms, and $2.5 million is a lot by any reckoning. They also know that the money so cavalierly being thrown around is their money, not hers. Sandals’ show of bluster was backed up by Premier Kathleen Wynne, who talked her way around pointed questions on the affair in the legislature. Wynne seems to have a peculiar blind spot when it comes to political integrity: she couldn’t understand why Ontarians objected to the ugly Liberal actions in the Sudbury byelection, or why anyone got upset when her office tried to derail a documentary it feared might portray her in a bad light. This is the same government that shrugged its shoulders when voters learned it had surreptitiously hired a computer expert to erase files in the premier’s office, while investigations were underway into the $1.2-billion gas plant fiasco. What, doesn’t everyone destroy potential evidence?
Shredding versus wiping–is corruption more concealable in modern times?
Fomer premier dalton McGuinty took pride in his selfdeclared status as “the education premier.” He ensured union peace by approving generous pay raises and juicy contracts, while borrowing money at record rates. Wynne has carried on that tradition. With an election looming, she offered the public school teachers — who had lost out on an earlier pay hike due to their own pigheadedness — $468 million to make them whole. The unions repaid the favour with a vicious public campaign against then-Progressive conservative leader Tim Hudak, helping Wynne to a surprise majority. Now she’s making sure to show her gratitude by pouring even more money into their accounts. It’s dark, insidious and if it’s not technically illegal, it should be.
Nothing more vicious than union vicious.
Both sides understand the relationship, and put on a show of contrariness when required. The unions marched around with placards and chanted angry slogans when McGuinty sought to temporarily freeze the favours, helping drive him from office and bring in the more amenable Wynne. Sandals and Wynne have resolutely issued statements declaring there was no extra money for teachers and they’d have to live with it. Meanwhile, they were secretly agreeing to take money from a fund for needy students and use it for a pay raise, while writing another cheque so the union wouldn’t have to pay its own bargaining costs. Sandals’ explanation is hardly credible: a new negotiating system brought in by the Liberals proved slower and less efficient than thought, so she felt it was justified to pick up the tab for it. but what about other Ontarians? Government mistakes have cost them plenty — think power plants, electricity costs, smart meters, MarS, eHealth, welfare software — yet no one sends them a cheque in the mail to make up for it.
Clearly, the Liberals value their relationship with the teachers’ unions. you can forgive Ontarians for wishing they were as close to the premier’s heart.
When liberals are in office, certain things follow. Why are we surprised when they do?
Government Job or Respect–Which’ll It Be?
Cheerio and ttfn,
Grant Coulson, Ph.D.
Author, “Days of Songs and Mirrors: A Jacobite in the ‘45.”
Cui Bono–Cherchez les Contingencies