The Common Stench Revolution, in obedience to the New World Order, marches on, making Ontario safe for hypocrisy
By Sydney White

As Mikey announces once again to the working poor and the unemployed: "You are the weakest link. Goodbye!" The question here, as one might ask of the television show, is "What link in what particular chain?" Obviously if the chain of command is hard core, right wing social darwinism, then any compassion or altruistic logic would be the weakest link. Though the other two parties fight valiantly in the legislature for ethics, they are only there on sufferance: The only responses to their pleas for sanity are repeated readings of the Harris party propaganda, delivered with all the sincerety of Ed the Sock.

THE POOR

Like Lizzie Borden with the axe, health, education and housing got 40 whacks and, when shown what he had done, Ontario Premier Mike Harris gave them 41. "Ontario Works", (or, as some refer to it: "Ontario Works for Nothing") has been blasted in the House by both minority parties for its blatant abuse of those who are conscripted, ostensibly, to move toward jobs.

For instance, the Ministry of Natural Resources made the biggest cut in staff of any other government department. It also hired more workfare recipients than any other ministry. Not only is government laying off paid workers to hire unpaid workfare, it is encouraging private business to do the same.

While free labour is shanghaied in this manner, the workfare victims are pitted against the working poor. Any subsidized childcare which has been available to parents working low income jobs has been turned over to those on workfare, who are going to the top of the list. Consequently, the poor, who have been working their way up towards the poverty line, have now been forced to quit their jobs because their wages cannot cover private day care. This, of course, creates a larger workfare force.

In the words of Liberal MPP Dominic Agostino, "The aim of the Expansion of Workfare Bill is to replace professionally trained people with workfare." The workfare staff, of course, who are compelled to "volunteer" or not get their pittance, are never to get permanency in any job. They are simply discarded to make way for another group of freebies when their so-called training time is up.

Many times the sock puppets in the best little house in Ontario fervently repeat that the Harris regime "wants to give a hand up, not a hand out". So far, we've only seen the back of the hand. In six years of advertised "boom", there has been no replacement, by one jot or tittle, of the 20 per cent cut to those on welfare. Instead, they were accused of being overpaid.

Meanwhile, Harris wanted a 42 per cent raise.

Then the poor were accused of "fraud" and a snitch line was installed. It should have been installed on Bay Street where corporate fraud costs us $10 billion a year. The informant ploy failed because it was proven that welfare fraud was under 3 per cent -- such frauds consisting of a few extra dollars made under the table.

Undeterred by fiascos, Harris next accused those on assistance of being lazy, and workfare was spawned. This was done by a premier who has spent less time in the legislature than any other in history. (In fact, when he finally returned after four months on the courses, I expected to see his seat in the House redesigned as a golf cart.)

The next degradation was to say that welfare people were drug addicted and must be tested. Again, the testing could have been brought to Bay Street as it is rumoured that cocaine is the favourite pick-me-up for the guys in red suspenders.

Finally, those on assistance were accused of being illiterate. They will now be tested in language and math. This last insult is the least of recipients' worries as so many of them have B.A.s -- or at least managed (unlike the premier) to make it through the first year of university.

Two questions: If the Harris crowd are supposedly interested in giving a "hand up", where is the affordable housing? Where is the day care for parents who must work that their children may live? These have not been answered.

Apparently the only pertinent question to those in favour of Mikey is, "Can he make the trains run on time?"

EDUCATION: TWO TIERS MASQUERADING AS 'CHOICE'

Janet Ecker -- She's baaaack! and doing a better demolition job on our public education system than our previous minister, John Snobelen. He is in the Guiness Book of Records as the only high school drop-out ever to be appointed Minister of Education. His credentials were at least appropriate to the task for which he was paid.

Janet, of course, will not be outdone as the Missionary of Macho. She was Minister of Social Services and an enthusiastic promoter of fingerprinting the poor. Rockefeller's Citibank was to supply the bio-identifying scanners until 22 activist groups reared their heads simultaneously and fought her for two years. Citibank opted out after considerable embarrassment at Metro Hall where they were greeted with hundreds of cardboard middle fingers raised on high, saying, "scan this".

True to her colours, Janet is now blaming the unions for destroying public education. When told that most teachers were using their own money to supply class materials, some to the tune of $2,500, Ecker replied that this had gone on for a long time and was nothing unusual. Harris, though a stranger to it himself, has now demanded overtime from the teachers. That's because the government has just palmed an ace.

The putsch is now on to take public funds and hand them over to some parents in the form of tax credits -- to the tune of $3,500 for each child they send to a private school. It costs the province $6,800 to educate each child. If $3,500 is withdrawn from this amount, it leaves just $3,300 for each public school student.

It is extremely easy to establish private shcools in Ontario as they do not have to answer to any criteria and do not have to submit financial statements. Since Harris took office, there are some 200 new "independent" schools, making a total of almost 1,000.

The other problem with tax credits, as opposed to grants given to private schools, is that grants demand a certain criteria of standards, whereas tax credits have no quality controls and they only benefit families with an income above $40,000.

This attack on the public school system is being leveraged by a criticism of government assistance for Roman Catholic schools, of which there are very few in Ontario. This criticism is happily coincident with the Harris right wing agenda. These vociferous critics do not acknowledge the historical reason for this assistance: that Canada was founded by two groups -- the English and the French (primarily Roman Catholic), who each made equal contribution. This truth resulted in an ethical, long-existing bill, where assistance for Roman Catholic schools has been part of fairness to the French heritage.

Neither the historical rights of the French nor the draining of public school funds affects Bernie Farber, the executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress. He stated in the Globe & Mail on May 14: "This is such an important step for so many middle income and lower income families. It gives them a small measure of relief." And, indeed, the measure of relief is small. Telling people that $3,500 a year will be the means of entering their children in private schools is an insult to any intelligent parent, whether of middle or lower income. This voucher, for that is what it really is, will only be useful as another tax rebate to those who can already afford a private school. It will not benefit the lower income families at all.

It will leave public schools crippled, taking $300 million out of the public school system where it is most urgently needed.

A recent guest on the Michael Coren show said that it would be better if the public education system was done away with completely -- ensuring that Kevyn Nightingale, CPA, would be remembered, if not for his logic, at least for his fealty to the fuedal state.

Public education has always been looked on as the foundation of civil society, an informed society, a society that will not be herded unquestioningly by authority -- though it be elected authority.

The solution to this government's problem of angry people asking questions is to create a public school system that is a "special ed" for all those who do not live in Fort Privilege.

NDP Leader Howard Hampton reminded Mikey in the House of his declaration that he "would never use public money to fund private schools." Harris replied, "That dealt with vouchers." Hampton countered with, "Vouchers and tax credits are the same thing."

Dalton McGinty accused Harris of rewarding his pals with his policies. Think back, my firends, to when you were a child at the fairgrounds, to the barker who beckoned you into the game with a smile and whose compelling words moved the crowd towards him: "Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice."

Don't listen to the barker or his shills who say you'll win. The game is rigged.

HARRIS 'READY TO SLAUGHTER THE SACRED COW OF HEALTH CARE'


Two years ago, I wrote an article in this paper entitled, "Something wicked this way comes". It dealt with the fate that is planned for health care in Canada.

Now the battle lines are drawn and we will have to fight tooth and nail to keep our universal health care system intact. The government has been delisting $100 million worth of health care behind closed doors, while MPPs like Frances Lankin are raising their voices in the House, saying that hospitals are commonly held assets and dollars for care should not be siphoned off in profit.

But privatized hospitals will receive bonuses for volume and for cutting standards.

While the citizens are left out, however, a small committee decides what procedures will be taken from the health care system and privatized. At the same time, tax breaks are going to those who can afford to pay for private health care.

The need for this "created crisis", which is destroying our public education and health care, was admitted to by John Snobelen. He let the cat out of the bag on television some time ago. This demolition has been aided and abetted by those like David Frumm who writes speeches for George Dubya. (That would explain how Bush's statements are both banal and aurreal at the same time, as well as the introduction of words never heard before.)

I met David Frumm a few years ago at a university reception and questioned his opinions. He declared me obnoxious -- one of my fondest memories. Along with Frumm, the Fraser Institute has been busy for some time, telling Americans that our public health care is folding. Dr. Michael Rachlis says that it is delusional of the premier to assume that "for profit care" will solve the problem.

What Rachlis believes is "delusion", however, is really an agenda -- one which will enable the premier to follow the same retirement plan as Brian Mulroney (who now sits on the boards of 25 U.S. corporations.)

Let's just take an overview of Mikey's agenda to see how it's affecting the citizens on the ground.

In the recent Tory budget, they bragged about the money they're putting into health care. What a scam! It's not even their money; it's federal money. Harris added a miniscule amount to it and now takes the credit.

The shortfall for hospitals is $750 million in the new budget, meaning hospitals will have $750 million in deficits. Now a new law disallows hospital deficits! People will be turned away from their own hospitals in every single community -- if not this year, next year and the year after. Surgeries will be cancelled. Nurses will be laid off. Wards will be closed. All public assets which we have paid for over the years are being sold off to Mikey's pals.

The largest part of the budget was a $2.4 billion tax break to corporations - this despite the fact that 93 per cent of the tax burden is paid by individuals and only 7 per cent by corporations. This new tax break should reduce their taxes to zero.

While health care is being dismantled, our health risks are increasing daily:

•  A new form of tuberculosis, seemingly immune to drugs, is rampant in the homeless population.
•  In Walkerton, seven died and 2,300 suffered from lengthy illness and debilitation; and now that the enquiry is headed into the home stretch, there is little doubt the Harris cuts to inspection services will be declared the chief culprit.
•  AIDS patients have been raided for their therapeutic marijuana while prescribed drugs kill 10,000 people a year (100,000 in the U.S.).
•  The milk allowance of $16 per month was taken from single mothers - while Mikey sought a 42 per cent pay raise.
•  The disabled have had no increase in their meagre allowance in the last six years of the so-called "boom". At the same time, we paid for Harris to take Sharon Dunn as a "guest" to China.
•  Seniors are now worried about living too long and cannot stay in their small homes; many have not yet received their small heating allowance.
•  As far as your lungs are concerned, nine of the largest air polluters are right here in Ontario -- coal burning plants spew five million kilograms of carcinogens every year. The budget for the Ministry of the Environment has been cut in half. But you don't need inspectors when there are no regulations to enforce.

Aside from direct attacks on the public health care system, there are many indirect attacks on our health. Privatizing Ontario Hydro makes it exempt from access-to-information laws. If nuclear plants are risky, if labour is not properly trained, or if the environment is being destroyed, we will not be able to find out. We will not learn anything about radioactive spills, malfunctions or emissions.

But as usual, we will foot the bill for mistakes.

As Howard Hampton remarked, "Harris's dirty deals to sell off our Hydro-electric system" has resulted in another $120 million to be charged on municipal bills.

We once had an abundance of cheap energy, which was also good for business. Now, living just 90 miles from Niagara Falls, we could soon be having rolling blackouts. Privatization in California raised prices there 650 per cent, sending that state to British Columbia for energy on the cuff. Californians have just been told that they could have as much as 20 hours a week without power.

Apparently a feudal monetary system can produce feudal times. Astute monitors of the "chaos theory" say that this energy shortage has been created, like any other shortage, so that Canada will knuckle under to the pressure for the sale of our energy and water to the U.S. Under NAFTA, once we send our water supplies south, we must keep up the same volume, whether or not we are suffering a shortage. At the same time, the media are stating that water levels in the Great Lakes have never been so low. Coincidence theorists ask, "Is illegal siphoning going on?"

In Harris Hell, university presidents are fund raisers; corporations are directing what is taught; professionals are replaced by untrained "volunteers" from Workfare; public school funds are being handed over to families who can afford private schools; health services are now capped and delisted; workers have lost benefits, wages and pensions; the environment has been trashed; water has become dangerous; air is unsafe; and the poor are scapegoated to distract society from the real perpetrators of this pillage. Our property is being stolen from us so that a very few can have an incredible standard of living: Mikey's pals and mentors.

As the Harris regime dives further into the rabbit hole, we are told that democracy means "choice". But as David Christopherson said in the House, the only choices we will have will be "whether to go to the hospital, or not; whether to send my kids to school, or not; whether to sit in the dark, or not." The real choice will be whether we can pay or not.

But the barker on the fairground is holding up the bottle of snake oil and still reeling them in. The fact that Mikey swung through the door a second time is proof positive that Barnum and Bailey were right: There's one born every minute.

People are still demanding that Harris allow a public enquiry into the murder of Dudley George; they are still waiting. Many others have died in the last six years -- and just as unnecessarily. Mikey's crowd genuflects in front of their bank books every night and congratulate themselves that we do not have proportional representation. When the only electoral system is outdated and tarnished, any knuckle-dragger can be shoved through the door, by any power-made group with enough bucks.

Time to batten the hatches and lay up supplies. It's going to be a long war.

Sydney White has been in public and diplomatic work all her adult life. She is a member of the Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform who teaches Studies in Propaganda through the Free University of Toronto.