Green bananas outlast political promises - Denny Scott editorial
As I sat through the most recent North Huron Council meeting, I wondered about the shelf life of a political promise. Apparently, in North Huron, it’s less than a year if many campaign promises are to be believed.
Regular readers of this column know that my stance regarding the Howson Dam has been that, as a non-essential piece of infrastructure, any restoration or replacement of the site needs to be done on the dime of those interested. The project could cost between $460,000 and $10 million, once financed.
Several council hopefuls agreed with me, including Reeve Bernie Bailey, who plainly stated during his campaign that ratepayers couldn’t shoulder the cost of the project, regardless of the path taken by council.
During North Huron’s budgetary process, however, $15,000 was earmarked for the Howson Dam-Bridge Committee to cover costs, such as hiring yet another engineer to evaluate the failing infrastructure.
The project has dragged on for years with council consistently coming to the same conclusion: there isn’t money in the budget to fix the ailing structure. I’m not sure what throwing another $15,000 at it is going to do, except allow the soon-to-be-struck committee, if it’s filled with supporters of the dam, to find an engineer more in line with their beliefs.
This $15,000 is on top of the amount of money the municipality is going to spend to have council representatives at the meeting. They will be paid for their attendance.
That’s an awful funny way to not spend
any tax dollars on it. In fairness, the committee doesn’t just get the money, they have to demonstrate a need, but why is it there at all?
At some point, council needs to take a stand on the issue and stop letting special interest groups dominate the discussion. The bridge is non-essential infrastructure, full stop. If a group wants to try and restore it, members should do so on their own dime with council’s blessing, rather than council’s involvement until the final decision on the dam is made.
We’re not talking about a tried-and-true tourist attraction here: we’re talking about a structure that could recreate a man-made lake that may or may not draw crowds away from places like Goderich or Grand Bend. In my opinion, as a life-long resident of Huron County and family man (the kind of person supporters hope to draw), that’s not likely.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out that broken political promises are a hallmark at pretty much all levels of politics, though I imagine most people already know that.
While my editor Shawn has had no problem taking our local MPP Lisa Thompson to task over her moves as Minister of Education, I’ve always held in the back of my mind this hope that, as the lesser of two evils, she was just doing what she was told.
I say the lesser of two evils because “just following orders” has never been a good excuse for people making questionable decisions, but it seems less vile. You can cite psychological studies that show that people are more likely to follow orders than make a ruckus, but really, everyone knows that people in a group tend to act in similar ways.
So while I wouldn’t give Thompson a pass on things I disagreed with, I didn’t necessarily think they were entirely her decisions.
However, when it comes to lies I’m a less forgiving person and, if the research is to be believed, Thompson’s repeated statement that no jobs would be lost as a result of her government’s cuts is one whale of a lie.
Whether you believe Thompson, who has amended her “no jobs lost” comment to actually mean no firings, but rather jobs cut by attrition, or whether you believe groups like the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), which say nearly 3,500 teaching jobs will be lost across Ontario (a 20 per cent loss).
Regardless of who is closer to the truth, those jobs won’t be there. Those positions, either through attrition or firing, will be gone for people currently pursuing education as a career. As someone who went to a school half-full of teaching-hopefuls, I can tell you there are already a lot of trained teachers not working in their preferred field.
The potential numbers behind this particular lie puts it in a very dubious category of being monstrous, not just in its scale, but in its intent, as well.
Any jobs lost due to education reform are especially concerning when the government making these reforms has continually talked about how many jobs it wants to create.
Like I’ve consistently said, even in a conversation with a former teacher of mine as recently as the night before the OSSTF’s report was unveiled, I hope that Thompson is just the face of the changes, otherwise, she has let her constituents down and the actions that have led us here were hers to do differently.
Huron-Bruce’s recent MP and MPP history, both Liberal and Conservative, has been denoted by integrity in my opinion. This kind and scale of lie, however, throws Thompson’s integrity into question and it’s no longer enough for me to hope she’s just following orders.