Opening Statement



Monday, 18 February 2013

My Notes From Today's Ontario Throne Speech


My Blog Acronym list is at: Acronyms

Monday Feb 19th 3:00 pm: Live on CP24

Here is the text of the speech: Throne Speech



The ceremonial parade enters the legislature. Party leaders + members take their seats. Lt Gov General David Onley is helped out of his wheel chair and makes his way to his throne seat with a cane. He is reading the Throne Speech.

The Throne speech, for my foreign readers + others who might not know, is sort of like our Ontario provincial "State of the Union" speech. It is delivered at the beginning of a new parliamentary session outlining the government's direction and goals. It is read by the Queen's Representative, a tradition dating back to when Canada was a British colony. His role has become mostly ceremonial like today.

The Lt Governor General sits at the front of the legislative assembly. The Premier and Opposition Leader sit across from each other on either side of the floor. Around + behind them sit the parties elected MPP's [Member of Provincial Parliament]. Sections are set aside for the third political party or any elected independents. In Ontario, as in the rest of Canada the party leader who's party win the most seats in a first "past the post" voting system becomes Premier. We do not vote separately for the premier in our model of parliamentary government.

For much more detailed information about the Ontario legislature +  how it works visit: Ontario legislature



Opening comments: Honorary mention is made to our recently deceased former Lt. Governor General Lincoln Alexander, Ontario's popular first black Lt. G.

Onley notice other "firsts." It's the first seating of 40th legislative assembly. Ontario has it's first female premier, Kathleen Wynne.

The ETFO + OSSTF Presidents are at QP today to provide their reactions to the Throne Speech. ETFO's Sam Hammond is in the Upper Gallery. OSSTF's Ken Coran is in the floor gallery, three rows back. CUPE President Fred Hahn is also seated in the floor gallery. Significant?

No mention if OCSTA is there or where President Kevin O'Dwyer might be seated. I would assume he is there along with reps from the provincial executive or the Government Relation's department.

In education, there will be a Youth Advisory Council created and the 30% post secondary tuition cut will continue. Creative thinking, co-operation, aboriginal youth + diversity are highlighted but I don''t hear anything new. No new surprises nor anything concrete is put on the table in the speech for teachers. The government will seek "new creative solutions." It will "show it's respect to teachers",  boards administrators etc. etc. etc. There won't be any more cuts. Is that new? Hmmm. Nice to hear.

The Throne Speech is 17 pages long. IMHO lots of nice words and assurances but very vague + basically it's a snoozefest. Details are not necessary in a Throne Speech,  but might've been a nice touch, especially with our teachers all sitting on edge. Onley reads the speech switching back + forth between English + French, our 2 official languages. There are translators present. There would also be one for the hearing impaired.



The Big Picture: Upper + Lower Visitors Gallery's!

There are repeated references to this being a "new government" Though there hasn't been a provincial election, the Liberal Party has chosen a new leader. The new party leader then becomes Premier. The speech repeatedly emphasizes "new."

After the Throne Speech a reporter notes Ken Coran gave Education Minister Liz Sandals a big hug.

The business of the legislature is finished for today. There will be a Question Period tomorrow at 10:30 am. Opposition leader PC Tim Hudak will give a response on the floor tomorrow. NDP party leader Andrea Horwath will also be given the opportunity to speak afterwards.

The emphasis will now be on media conferences and scrums.

My focus here is on the education portfolio.

I am awaiting interviews from the teacher union presidents, the Premier, + the opposition ...

OSSTF's Ken Coran notes there are not a whole lot of details. He mentions the emphasis on "new government" sounds "refreshing." He is interested in mention of a fair and transparent bargaining process.There will be a meeting on Thursday to discuss the Throne Speech + any further details with the government. Members are still upset about their imposed contracts so OSSTF needs something tangible to move forward.

ETFO's President Hammond says he awaits a meeting tomorrow with the government to learn more details. He is waiting to see if there is anything new that could lead to a reconsideration of the members' EC boycott.

Premier Wynne says she will build on the successes on the last 9 years. Tactful. Details will be forthcoming as she meets with the different community and party leaders. 


PC Hudak: His key repeated references are to "McGuinty" and "being bold". Today was a "moment of truth" for deciding if Ontario was back on the "right track". Instead  Wynne "entrenched the McGuinty agenda." We need a "bold courageous change" in the direction of the provinces approach to the economy. He speaks of the "magnitude" of the job + how disappointed he is. A "cautious and incremental approach" won't work. He promises a "trust your gut" approach to act "quickly and boldly" instead. It is needed now. There is no more time to waste. Only the PC's can get the job done. He will "not support" the throne speech. He wants an election and change. He is grilled on whether Ontario wants an election. He says we want change. He had hoped for something different. He just keeps mentioing "McGuinty" and being "bold". He uses "bold" twice in his closing line.

NDP Horwath compliments the "fine words" in the Throne Speech. It's an "encouraging sign", but such "vague commitments" aren't enough. She won't support the upcoming budget unless Wynne can produce results in committing to the NDP's stated goals: jobs for young people, closing corporate tax loop holes, a time line for a home care guarantee, a reduction of auto insurance + not new road fares. She us prepared to "pass the throne speech" but it is "extremely vague". There's "lip service" to the NDP's goals that now will need to be delivered in the budget for the NDP to support it.

CUPE's Fred Hahn likes the references to the collective bargaining process and jobs. He sees his discussions with her "reflected" in the speech. We too wants "specifics". He's against any further public service cuts. That's good news for CUPE + all of us in the public sector.

Commentary? The Grand Poobah declares: 



One couldn't get much more vague with details than in today's Throne Speech. Premier Wynne's language provided a vision statement with much of the same old platitudes. However her focus on fairness, co-operation and social issues rather than a heavy emphasis on the economy is still significant in and of itself.  It confirms that she is definitely leaning towards the NDP to prop her government up. She will also be working to encroach on the NDP's control of the centre/ central left of the Ontario Political spectrum. Wynne knows that at the very least she needs to reclaim the political centre where Ontario elections are either won or lost while stealing some of the NDP's thunder. She's vague leaving open her options. Her claim she will work out the details later as she meets with the different partners isn't necessarily bad. It's pretty much her Liberal brand, consultation, co-operation and compromise. That is how she will be playing the political game at the spring legislative session. I'd give her a cautious C+ maybe a B- if I am right. However the political odds resulting from the past year are still against her success, except perhaps in halting the parties drastic slide throughout the spring session.

Kathleen Wynne C+/ B-

From our teacher point of view there still isn't anything concrete on the education table. The OLP platitudes and assurances have worn extremely thin. Ken Coran's hug for Liz Sandals is worrisome, at least as described. Perhaps the MOE is gambling that the OSSTF leadership desperately wants an exit strategy from the present course of continuing protests and withholding EC's . I hope I'm wrong.

ETFO's Sam Hammond might well be in the same boat but I sense he was more reserved + firm in his "wait to see" response. He wouldn't be adverse to a good exit strategy either but I think he's acting more prudently. It seems like he is in less of a hurry, and is still in for the long run if need be. We will see.

I'm not convinced that the membership of either affiliate is in lock step with their union executive leadership. I will deal with this at greater length in an upcoming blog. Think of it as letting a lion out of the cage, and then trying to get it back in.

OECTA is conspicuous in it's absence. I'd bet they were there somewhere but lying very, very low. Think of it like they still got the lion in the cage. More later ...

The NDP is giving Wynne enough rope to strangle herself. If that doesn't work and Wynnes consultation, co-operation + compromise strategy fails to please, she can keep tightening the Liberal noose with the NDP's budget demands. I would think it's prudent and more becoming to string her along for awhile to see what she can get with the cards in her hands. It's no assurance that a spring election is unlikely, but she is letting Wynne buy some more time. If she plays her cards right she could make some significant budget gains while coming off looking good. I'll a hard marker. I'll give her a solid:



Andrea Horwath: B/ B+

PC Hudak continues to irritate and be abrasive. I admit I don't like him or the party. He can tell that the OLP will be leaning more to the left than the right. He expects more co-operation between the Liberals + the NDP's during the new legislative session. His "bold" statements grow quite quite tiresome and shallow, lacking substance + details. He seems proud that his vague claims somehow set him apart as a rather dubious political alternative who voters will fall for should the legislative house of cards soon collapse. 

Hudak's references to being "bold", "trusting his gut" and "acting quickly" are scary. He reminds me of a bull in a china shop. If one thinks them through his "solutions" they are about the equivalent of drinking Draino to get rid of a sore throat. His edited news clips invariably come across a lot better than the actual media conferences and scrums. The reporters are often quite derogatory and heckle his incredulous claims. Unless the Liberals and the NDP blow it badly with a serious misstep or two during the legislative session ahead he might well expose himself as less of a real threat and more of a paper tiger.

Wynnes "cautious and incremental" approach to government probably shows much better management skills than anything he brings to the table. I would be willing to bet it also has more appeal to the Ontario public, who might well not look very favourably towards an election at this point in time. Hudak has been playing the "Dalton McGuinty" card relentlessly since 2003. It's obvious he will now try transferring his Dalton name blame game over to Wynne. It's probably a part of his attempt to nail + discredit Wynne's complicity in the gas plant investigations. He has got a lot of hope riding on uncovering and proving scandal. He's most comfortable wallowing down into mud. His buddies at the Toronto Sun News will love it too.

BTAIM Hudak is setting himself up as the angry neo con foil for Ontarians, which short of a split vote and/or strong backlash against the Liberals and/ or NDP, has a definite ceiling cap of about 35% of the vote. His appeal has long since peaked and he is slipping in the polls. He continues to push the PC's far from even the centre right of the Ontario political spectrum to please his hardcore neo con base. Abandoning the political centre altogether is not a good move. He continues to alienate the average voter + his party moderates as well. I'm not complaining as long as he continues to slip in the polls. Acting like an angry guy up against two women who are trying to be pleasant and work together is not a good move either. Hopefully he will increasingly continue to expose himself as a neo con paper tiger.  I will be an easy marker because of my dislike for him. I don't want there to be any inadvertent bias, so I give him a solid: 



Tim Hudak: E-

The Comment Bar is below:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These union leaders are "whores". Imagine sitting on the floor of the legislature and licking Wynne's boots. Fucking shameful mate.

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