The vision of the wilfully blind

(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.


  1. totally agree about the elephant in the room. I also agree with your views on the other main party candidates. However, was it your voting bias that gave the barest of compliments to Mike Schreiner? He was the candidate with the most well thought out responses, and he did not read from notes. To say he just performed as expected did him a disservice. If we elect someone from Guelph to Queen’s Park, we need a well informed seasoned politician who is doing well right out of the gate. Sly Castaldi almost made me throw up with her over the top praise of Liz Sandals. Ye she was smart, but she didn’t listen to other views anytime I or other had something to say. Treating the electorate like peasants isn’t in the least admirable. She got elected last time because she made a point of scaring people off of voting for the PC’s. That’s not much of a platform. I think Sly is going to do the same thing.

    1. Author

      I won’t deny the influence my own biases have on the stuff I write. I do believe that in the long run, the Green Party is doing itself a disservice with the type of campaign it is running. It’s a repeat of the last one where campaign workers are imported to work on Mike’s campaign much the way they were out west for May’s federal campaign. I haven’t seen any evidence that Green support locally has grown from where it was, and Schreiner does not have anything close to the profile provincially that May had federally. Rather than expending so much of their resources into getting one person elected, the Greens would be better off concentrating on winning proportional representation. The best and quickest hope for that would be the election of an NDP government. Once that is done, we can abandon the stifling effect of big tent parties and get each of the parties the legislative numbers they deserve.

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