Liars: The McGuinty-Wynne Record by Daniel Dickin (Freedom Press Canada Inc., $19.95, 222 pages)
My old publisher Freedom Press has released a timely book, Liars: The McGuinty-Wynne Record by Daniel Dickin. The title says it all and one sentence in the introduction further explains his thesis: “While the average Ontario citizen benefitted under the Big Blue Conservative governments of the 20th century, the only people benefiting from the Ontario Liberals are the public sector unions and Liberal Party elites.” While Dickin is obviously a Tory supporter, that doesn’t make the story he tells any less true. And that story is not terribly flattering to the McGuinty-Wynne governments, which might be better understood as the McWynnety government (singular). Dickin does a great job explaining the continuity between the two leaders.
Dickin documents how Ontario has become a have-not province, how it went from being the economic engine of Canada to one where two manufacturing jobs are pushed out of the province by taxes and regulations for every “green” job created by the Liberal government’s cronies. Almost as scandalous as the litany of Liberal malfeasance, is the media’s non-coverage of the McWynnety economy: “Plant closures and job losses have lost their sting and become just another announcement, just another reality of the Liberal Ontario,” says Dickin. For whatever reason, few political observers outside partisan critics in the Progressive Conservative Party seem interested in connecting Liberal policies with the declining economic fortunes of the province.
Another policy area that deserves greater scrutiny is the radical sex ed and “anti-bullying” educational policies of the Liberal government, including the licentious sexual education program introduced during Wynne’s tenure as minister of education that McGuinty was forced to abandon due to public pressure. The author does a fine job describing the “completely inappropriate and unacceptable curriculum” of which “there was simply no way to justify teaching children at such a young age.” It was scandalous but received little coverage until parents concerned about the moral dimension (or lack thereof) were successful in pressing the government to scuttle the new curriculum; Dickin notes, however, that while the full package of perversion was dropped in 2010, many elements of the curriculum were later introduced into the schools.
Dickin also does an exemplary job describing how some Progressive Conservative candidates in the 2011 provincial election tried to make the Liberal attempt to impose a curriculum that usurped the rights of parents to direct the moral education of their children a campaign issue (and legitimately so) and how the McGuinty campaign team turned it around to attack the Tories as “homophobic.” McGuinty, like former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien, was a brilliant and shameless campaigner, pure Machiavelli in the worse possible sense of that term.
It is a little disappointing that Dickin totally ignores Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act which became law in 2012. Here at The Interim we provided extensive coverage noting that while ostensibly an anti-bullying initiative, it was actually a way to normalize homosexuality. Such misrepresentation of what Bill 13 truly was as scandalous as anything else the McWynnety Liberals have done, so it is odd that this was ignored by Dickin.
While the economic record is enough to warrant rage at the McWynnety government and their education policies are gross violations of the rights of parents as first educators, what many outraged voters are most irked with is the endless headlines of Liberal scandals that look like outright corruption. Liars goes well behind the headlines and talking points when delving into the three main scandals of the McWynnety era: Ornge, eHealth and the gas plants cancellations. While the average reader might have forgotten the specifics of Ornge and eHealth, Dickin nicely summarizes the venal details of government officials acting in their self-interest with no regard for taxpayers. At times the retelling of the stories gets repetitive and the book could have used some aggressive editing, but readers need to be reminded of the sometimes seemingly criminal behaviour at the highest levels of Ontario government over the past 11 years. If Dickin is perhaps too forceful, even relentless in retelling these stories, it is only because he clearly feels that the scandals have been mostly brushed aside by a media that sometimes seems an adjunct to the Ontario Liberal Party campaign team. Dickin’s goal is to make readers irate with the Ontario Liberals by reminding them of the scandals lost in our memory to time and the details of new, ever-emerging scandals, and he more than succeeds.
Liars also does a good job describing the Working Families Coalition, a union-funded political outfit that attacks McGuinty’s and Wynne’s political opponents while appearing to side with Ontario’s struggling families. But as Dickin says, the WFC is not actually a coalition of representatives of families, but a front for unions that reward McWynnety’s pro-union policies; the cost of extravagant contracts to public sector workers is an on-going and unsustainable burden to taxpayers. This is another under-covered political story in Ontario and while Dickin uncovers no smoking gun connecting the WFC to the Ontario Liberal Party (even though Liberal strategists and consultants also work for the Working Families Coalition), he marshals enough evidence that there is little doubt that the interests of the WFC’s 13 union sponsors and Liberal government overlap a little too much. I would have less trouble with the activities of WFC if it were transparent and didn’t dress its agenda up as a pro-family effort.
There are few books about provincial politics and none about the McGuinty government despite the fact that he was premier for about a decade. Dickin’s Liars is a good first draft of the scandalous history of the McWynnety government.
Paul Tuns is editor of The Interim and author of Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal.
For more on Ontario politics, see the June 2014 story, “Pro-lifers have slim pickings in Ontario election.”