Editorials - May 5, 2022
Too close for comfort
For years we have watched American news channels report on drive-by shootings and increasing numbers of gun violence. It was easy to dismiss it as “an American problem”. Over the years, we have seen an increase in the same kind of gunplay on the streets of Toronto. We still dismissed it as “a city problem”, definitely not something that really affected us here in southwestern Ontario.
Now, it is becoming frequent even in smaller cities near us. Just last month, there were multiple instances of shootings in downtown London, where rowdy university students used to be the biggest disturbance on homecoming weekends.
While gun control is never an easy subject to broach in a conservative, rural area, there has to be a way to keep guns out of the hands of people who have no regard for life. Last week a drone carrying bags of handguns into Lambton County was intercepted by police and presumed to be smuggling the weapons into Canada from the U.S.
The criminals will always find a way to keep a step ahead of the law, so the justice system needs to have some teeth when it comes to guns and violence. Canadians need to feel safe walking on their own streets whether they live in rural Lambton County or in downtown Toronto. – DS
The day after tomorrow
If you’ve ever been in one of those bars with walls covered in bric-à-brac, you may have seen the roll-your-eyes clever sign heralding that there will be “free beer tomorrow”. The sign, of course, never changes and tomorrow never comes; nor does the promised free beer.
Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson calls last week’s budget tabled by Premier Doug Ford’s government “a plan to get things done”. If she were verbalizing that statement, she might very well hit the last three words hard, while those who have been critical of the government might emphasize the first two. It’s a plan, sure, but will it get things done? We’ll have to wait and see, as the legislature is now adjourned until September, with the matter of an election still to be settled.
The nearly $200 billion budget is the largest in Ontario history (yes, even bigger than Premier Kathleen Wynne’s much-maligned final budget) and it will plunge Ontario into a deficit of nearly $20 billion. As a result, a balanced budget will have to wait until 2027/2028.
However, is it all much ado about nothing? The budget hasn’t been passed and the earliest any government will return to the table will be after Labour Day. The budget will hang there like a carrot on a stick ahead of the June 2 election. Even if Ford’s government is re-elected, there’s no guarantee they will return to this budget in September.
This budget could be worth little more than the binder that contains it. But, it’s been proposed and whether it will garner votes for Ford and his team remains to be seen. It has all the hits: infrastructure, hospitals, tax relief and more. Will it provide a path out the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, or will it be the promise of free beer on a tomorrow that never comes? We’ll see in September. – SL
A high-wire balancing act
In last week’s issue of The Citizen, a story said that Huron County Council wanted to get away from operating services for homeless individuals, instead looking for a third-party organization to handle local shelters and programs, like the Out of the Cold service.
While it’s difficult to weigh in on the “why” of the issue, as it was all handled in closed-to-the-public sessions, the move may concern some in regards to the future of services for those experiencing homelessness locally.
In some cases, going to a third-party organization could be the first step towards privatization, which could lead to those services being provided with an eye towards making a profit and, after the province and the country saw what that did with long-term care centres and retirement homes, that kind of change could result in some very concerning outcomes. Beyond that, transparency can become a casualty of third-party organizations taking over services previously provided by upper- or lower-tier governments.
If a service goes to a third-party provider, those who need the service, or even those looking to connect with the provider, aren’t dealing with their municipality or their county, but with another organization.
Huron County Council, like the municipalities its members represent, needs to walk a tightrope when it comes to this issue, deciding what is important enough to be kept in-house and what may be beyond the scope of municipal staff. Ratepayers then can only hope that problems won’t arise from services no longer being handled by the government, but a third party the government has brought in for a price.
While moving to a third-party organization could be the best move, once the reasoning becomes clear and the dust settles, it could also open some doors that history has shown are sometimes best left closed. – JDS