Happiness at Queen’s Park is…

…is whatever makes the press gallery happy. The other day they had pictures of three opposing party leaders in Ontario all taking shots at their nemesis Premier Kathleen Wynne. No need for separate interviews. They wanted to show solidarity.

Mind you there was a lot of hypocrisy in that threesome but it is hard to get away from hypocrisy when political parties talk about fundraising in Ontario. You might have thought of the province being in the east but when it comes to money for politics, Ontario is the wild, wild west.

It was not until the recent major annual dinner of Ontario’s ruling Liberals that a Toronto Star reporter looked around, did some basic mathematics and said “Holy crap!” The newspaper decided to do an exposé. They found out nothing new but made a big deal of the targets that cabinet ministers were expected to earn for the party coffers.

What is wrong with politics in Ontario starts with moribund political parties. The Ontario Liberals are a closed shop. They have a permanent ‘No help wanted’ sign on provincial party headquarters in Toronto. While federal party numbers grow, provincial numbers in Ontario continue to shrink. Candidate decisions and policy are strictly the purview of the party leader and her aides.

If you think the parties have not collapsed from lack of interest in Ontario how do you think someone as useless as Patrick Brown was able to swamp the Conservative party membership with sign-ups from India and Pakistan? He broke the rules of their leadership contest and nobody cared.

Politics in Ontario has been fouling the septic systems in the province since Mike Harris, the old inflation fighter, took us all for idiots back at the end of the nineties. Political parties in this province are past their best-before dates.

Dalton McGuinty was a pathetic premier. And it tells you all you need to know when you realize that Andrea Horwath is the best the NDP can put forward. It was a fine gesture when Timmy Hudak had the good grace to resign after the last provincial election. It might not be helpful though as the only people who might vote Progressive Conservative today are people who have never met Patrick Brown.

But as we said happiness at Queen’s Park is when the press gallery is fed and ‘watered’ and put down for the night. All they need is some stories to keep their editors and news directors happy. It can be another small step on booze reform, a baby step towards fundraising reform or an offer of a highly redacted Special Investigations Unit report. Just keep them away from the real concerns about how this province is being run.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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