THUNDER BAY – If you are old enough to remember, it was a quote, “What’s a million dollars?” that sunk a Liberal dynasty. The quote which was attributed to the federal Member of Parliament C. D. Howe by Progressive Conservative John Diefenbaker became the symbol of government arrogance in 1958.
Today, the Ontario Liberals are being accused of taking a “What’s one hundred and ninety million dollars”.
The sum of money that what could be called a purely political decision is large enough in a province struggling with debt to anger voters enough to vote out Premier McGuinty and the Liberals should an election be called over the issue.
When you consider what a sum of $190 million dollars could do the size of that amount of money becomes frustrating.
In Thunder Bay, a community trying hard to raise $5 million dollars in order to reach a level that the Ontario Government can then match those funds for the flood relief effort each dollar has been increasingly harder to raise.
The Premier did not visit the city after the May 28th flood.
With $190 million not wasted, the province could have stepped up and covered the damages in our region caused by the flood.
Further north, the Ontario Liberals are canning the Ontario Northland Railway. A lack of funds is being stated is the reason.
Making $190 million dollar political mistakes is a sure-fire way that the Ontario government will remain short of funds.
The anger from the Opposition parties has not spilled over into a great deal of the public and national media. In some ways it almost appears to be a situation where the Premier’s popularity continues to hold sway over many.
The Liberals fought the Legislature over the release of all the documents related to this situation. Right now the Energy Minister is facing censure from the legislature.
The real question should be when a government, regardless of which party it is, make political decisions with public dollars, at what point does that become wrong?
Ontario is in a minority government right now. This issue has not caught the media or public like it might have. If it does, the potential for an election and perhaps a new government is possible.
Sometimes, regardless of the timeline, the story remains the same in 2012 as it did in 1958. If the opposition can frame this issue as one of political arrogance, rather than of legislative procedure it can be seriously damaging to the Ontario Liberals.
If they can not do that, chances are most people won’t fully understand the issue, and will assume it is just more ‘politics du jour’, and the issue will fade.
Interesting week at Queen’s Park.