Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Visit to Queen's Park

Last fall, for reasons hazy and uncertain, I packed up the little fella into the bike-buggy and rode down to Queen's Park. The event that I had a vague recollection was supposed to be there wasn't there. So, on a lark, I decided to get a visitor's pass and go watch the events in the legislature. I was told it was going to be Question Period so it would be a little more lively than usual.

I remember thinking that the ceiling of the legislature was quite grand, but that the number of MPPs looks a lot smaller from up above than when you see them in shots from ground level on the television news.

The other, more important thing, was listening to these clowns. The discussion had to do with some latest example of Liberal incompetence and failure on the health care file. Money that was promised to meet a long acknowledged problem wasn't being delivered and the Minister of Health was refusing to account for anything. The ONDP was asking the question when I arrived and the Liberal opposite gave a meaningless reply about how important the subject was and how they were working on it, giving no specific explanation for the delay. But it was when the Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP stood up to trash the government on the same issue that I saw how sordid mainstream politics really is. The O PC was asking about the same issue, so it was obviously a well known semi-scandal. The O PC was hammering the Liberals quite hard on the subject. But the Liberal response was to issue the same platitudes as had been offered to the ONDP, but to then condemn the O PC's for the documented catastrophe that was their record of management.

I'd noticed that aside from banging their desks in support of a question from their own MPP, the NDP listened (or tried to listen) to what was being said on the other side. (A couple of MPPs occasionally said something into the ear of someone sitting next to them.) But during the government response, the Ontario PC's hooted and hollered and jeered. During the government response, the Liberal MPPs banged their desks and cheered, and hurled insults and accusations at the opposition. I noticed ONDP leader Andrea Horwath looking pained and irritated as the two parties traded insults about their own destruction of public health care in Ontario. Peter Kormos, sitting near her, and supposedly a legislative firebrand was also listening to these self-serving, stupid exchanges with disgust.

I honestly believe that both the Ontario Liberals and the Ontario PC's want to weaken public health care in this province. The Liberals have no doubt been swayed by bogus neoliberal arguments and corporate lobbyists to believe that they can hack little bits and chunks out of the public health care edifice without harm to the main structure, and that these attacks will "improve" and "streamline" health care delivery by some mysterious process. (And if they get rewarded with cushy jobs from private insurance and medical and pharmaceutical companies later, that just makes it a win-win-win equation!) As well, unproductive corporate and high-income tax cuts have to be paid for somehow. The Ontario PC's on the other hand, are dogmatic believers in some nonsensical mental construct they call the "free market" and as such, corporate lobbyists and other such vultures have an easier job of swaying them to push harder for cuts in spending, which create service breakdowns, which create excuses to privatize, which means either that the six-figure MPP salary rocks and all they have to do for it is push for policies that even when they demonstrably fail do little to damage their fund-raising capabilities. And, if they're lucky enough to be an important MPP, actively, publicly fighting to hand public health care over to the private sector, they'll be rewarded with even more money afterwards.

Of course, there are alternative explanations for why both the Ontario Liberals and the Ontario PC's fail, fail, fail, to deliver on health care. But I've read enough neoliberal bullshit and fairy-tales for a lifetime and I don't think they need to be repeated.

No comments: