(11 May 2018) – Workers are not injured in the construction industry. Or in Guelph. Maybe they’re getting hurt up north in the mines or something. Thus spake Ray Ferraro, the Conservative candidate appointed by provincial leader Doug Trump. Workers here in Guelph are safe as houses, he thinks. He used to be a real estate developer and he knows houses, or so he thinks.
Ferraro was on stage last night at Guelph’s first all-candidate meeting of the provincial election. Sponsored by the Guelph-Wellington Coalition for Social Justice, the meeting brought about four hundred people to the Italian-Canadian Club.
His answer to a question about worker health and safety was a disgrace. What universe does he live in? Certainly not the one in which hundreds of Guelph workers have been severely injured on the job in recent years. He obviously doesn’t inhabit the same reality as the families still reeling from the devastating impact of these injuries.
One large problem with occupational health and safety is the internal responsibility system. Instead of controlling employers through enforceable laws and collectible fines, the government trusts them to control themselves. We’ve seen how well that works. At least, some of us have. Ferraro obviously hasn’t.
Ferraro didn’t start or stop there. When answering a question about climate change he said we should stop constructing wind turbines. On housing, he said he would stop the awful situation in which all the social housing goes to the County and none is built in Guelph.
Is he unaware that his man Mike Harris brought in the Social Housing Reform Act which defined the County of Wellington as service manager for social housing in Guelph and Wellington County? Harris then cancelled the development of any more social housing anywhere in Ontario.
There are none so blind as those who will not see.
Sly Castaldi, the Liberal candidate, is running on Liz Sandals’ record. Castaldi did well when speaking about issues of homelessness and women’s issues. So she should. She has been the Executive Director of Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis for the last 14 years. She didn’t do as well on other questions not directly related to her own experience.
Aggie Mlynarz, the NDP candidate, did well but would do a lot better if she led from her heart rather than her speaking notes. She understands very well the issues besetting people of her generation, the ones who are inheriting the mess left by the men in suits who’ve run the show until now. Those of you who know me know that Aggie will get my vote, but still. Policy papers move policy wonks. Passion moves voters.
Mike Schreiner was easily the most experienced person on stage. The other five are relative novices in comparison. The provincial leader of the Green Party ought to have done well in those circumstances. He had a cheering section composed of local supporters bolstered by a large number from surrounding ridings.
One thing disappointed me. Of all six candidates on stage, not a single one talked about what should be the elephant in the room. They all spoke about the issues as though each occupied its own separate silo.
When you look at health care, education, climate change, worker health and safety, or waste management, there is one thing that ties them all together: deregulation. This is the evil spawn from the illicit union of privatization and tax cuts.
The rules put in place to protect our quality of life have been slowly and steadily stripped away by successive Liberal and Conservative governments. We will not see any change for the better until we bring enforceable regulations back.