Liberal Game Playing

Blog - No Comments » - Posted on July, 23 at 8:22 am

From Christina Blizzard, Toronto Sun:

I’m not generally a conspiracy theorist.

Today, though, from my vantage point high atop a grassy knoll, I can sagely conclude there was a Machiavellian connection between two recent stories.

First, the government puts out speculation they’re about to sell off public assets: LCBO, casinos, nuclear plants — all were on the table.

Or not.

Two weeks ago, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan let it be known the asset sale was a non-starter.

Selling off the crown jewels is not something you’d do lightly. It seems impossible to me that word could leak out that the government was about to do so if there wasn’t a well developed plan to do so.

The idea fizzled.

Then Duncan announced a pay freeze for civil servants.

That’s when the antennae on the tinfoil in my hat start to receive odd messages.

Were the two stories linked? First, threaten to privatize all those cushy civil service jobs.

Then, when you’ve got public sector workers in an uproar, tell them no, no. It was all a mistake. You keep your jobs.

We just want you to take a two year pay freeze.

Frankly, you wonder what took Duncan so long.

The economic downturn hit in 2008.

Having steadfastly denied there was any need to get public sector salaries under control, Duncan finally announced in his March budget he was seeking a freeze.

The salaries of non-unionized civil service employees were immediately zapped, as was the pay of MPPs, cabinet ministers and the premier.

Then again, they’d been on a feeding frenzy in the public trough. Having hiked their own pay almost 40% in three years, the Liberals are now freezing it at a base salary around $116,000. And most MPPs make more than that if they’re parliamentary assistants or chair committees.

Some freeze, huh?

Naturally, public sector unions are up in arms.

While the rest of us roll our eyes and wonder what planet they’re on — and what messages they’re getting through their tinfoil hats — they’re whining.

At least Duncan isn’t doing what Bob Rae did when he imposed his hard-lined social contract.

Rae, a socialist at the time, opened up public sector collective agreements in order to impose his so-called “Rae days” — unpaid days off to get control of the public purse.

Duncan’s timing is interesting. Two major public sector union contracts — with teachers and with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union — don’t expire until after next year’s election. Those are aggressive unions, so expect fireworks.

Just not yet.

Duncan’s made a good start. There’s precious little sympathy for public sector unions.

They look like dinosaurs at the tar pit.

The more whine and thrash around and wallow in self-pity, the more they’re engulfed by anger from private sector workers who pay their salaries, pay their lavish pensions, and who’ve borne all the pain so far.

If he really wants to save money, Duncan should look at the big earners.

Scan the out-of-control Sunshine List of people making more than $100,000 on the public payroll.

Everyone making more than $120,000 a year should get an immediate 10% pay rollback — and then a freeze.

Private sector workers have been in the big freeze for years.

They’ve lost jobs, lost pay, lost pensions.

A two-year freeze is a small sacrifice for job security in the public sector.

They can suck it up — or government can sell off their jobs to the private sector.

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