Saturday, October 27, 2012

They wouldn't be that stupid again would they?

I have been watching things unfold between the Ontario government and the public sector unions of Ontario and it is reminding me of 1994/95.

It was during this time that these unions hammered the government of Bob Rae over his efforts to reduce government spending.  You see he was imposing policies that resulted in public servants and other workers in the public sector losing some of their income due to forced days off and other measures.  We all remember the so called "Rae Days".  A lot of bad blood rose between the two of them and it is certain that it contributed to the trouncing Mr. Rae took in the subsequent election and the election of Mike Harris to a majority Tory government in Ontario in 1995.

By no means was that the only reason why Mr. Rae lost but the desertion of many of these votes from Mr. Rae caused a split in the non-Tory vote and it allowed Mr. Harris to come up the middle.

Of course the rest is history.  Instead of howling about forced days off the public sector unions could only watch in helpless frustration as Mr. Harris took the route all right-wing governments take and laid off public sector workers by the thousands.

Could history be repeating itself?  Could the public sector unions be so focused on the short-term that they are forgetting history?

Maybe they believe that they can do this because the Ontario NDP will win the next election.  If that is the case the leadership of Ontario public sector unions are idiots.

I would be willing to bet a sizable chunk of money that the NDP will not even get a sniff of power in the next Ontario election.  The reasons are many.  First, they are in third place in the Ontario Parliament.  It is exceedingly rare for the third place party to win an election.  Second, there is widespread perception in this province that the NDP cannot be trusted with power because of the cock-up of Bob Rae.  I do not agree with that perception but my disagreement and a toonie will buy a coffee at Timmie's.  Third, many Dippers saw the results of the Federal election and got all misty eyed over what Jack Layton did and they believe Ms. Horvath could do the same thing.  The problem with that is Ms. Horvath is not Jack Layton and even if she was I would also remind Dippers that Jack Layton did not win anything.  All he succeeded in doing is taking his party to Official Opposition status against a majority government, probably the most frustrating place to be in our political system.  Just ask the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance if you do not believe that.

During the next election the two parties most likely to form the government in Ontario are the Liberals and the Tories.  The question for public sector unions is which one would they prefer?  I can understand that neither option is particularly palatable and I agree with them that the Liberals are out of line imposing these policies in the high handed fashion that they are imposing them.  However, the Liberals are not laying anybody off.  If Tim Hudak becomes Premier of Ontario, he and the Tea Party wannabes in the Tory Party will follow in the footsteps of Mike Harris.

Does the leadership of the various public sector unions not see this reality?  Did the experience of the mid-90s not teach them a fine lesson?

My gut says no to both questions.  Like all politicians the leadership of these unions are not looking past the immediate concerns to the big picture.  They will probably continue to sow resentment to the Liberal government amongst their memberships so that when the next Ontario election rolls around the members of these unions will split their votes and allow Tim Hudak to win a probable majority government.

It is unfuriating that the unions have to take the treatment that the Ontario Liberals are visiting upon them.  It is also infuriating that there really is no viable, electable alternative to the Hudak Tories and the Randy Hillers of Ontario because I happen to believe that the Liberals could use a rest from government.  It's galling but it is what it is.  So, the public sector unions better realize that if they want to maintain the jobs of their members they had better work to prevent the election of a Tory government and the odds state that the only party able to do that in Ontario at this moment is the governing Liberals much to their and my chagrin. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lance Armstrong

After an extensive investigation and a great deal of time the USADA finally released its findings regarding allegations that Mr. Armstrong had cheated to win his seven straight Tour de France titles.  The report containing those findings was damning and it paints a very grim picture of cheating and deceit by Mr. Armstrong and the cycling teams he was a part of during those years.

Mr. Armstrong, his representatives and his supporters have all condemned the report as inaccurate and they rightly point out that he has never failed a drug test.  They have a point but the findings of the report were partially derived from sworn affidavits by individuals that were involved in the doping activities described in the report, individuals that specifically name Mr. Armstrong as a willing participant in these activities.

In all likelyhood their are some inaccuracies in the report because eye witness testimony can be wrong but the shear amount of witness testimony, from almost a dozen different people, makes it probable that at least some of the report is accurate and if even a small percentage of it is accurate it does not look good on Mr. Armstrong.

What is also working against Mr. Armstrong is the lack of an explanation of how he could have dominated a sport for over half a decade during a period of time which is widely known and documented as being a time of widespread doping activities by virtually all of the elite athletes in the sport.   This by no means proves he is guilty but it does raise questions which have not been reasonably answered yet.

Many of Mr. Armstrong's supporters have claimed that the USADA has been involved in a vendetta against him.  However, what is missing from such an argument is a motivation for undertaking such vendetta.  Again, there has been no reasonable explanation of why a government organization would go through the time, effort and money to "frame" Mr. Armstrong for the wrongdoing outlined in the report. 

Many of his supporters also point out that his cancer foundation has raised a great deal of money for cancer research so the rest does not matter.  There is no denying the good that he has done for cancer research and the success of his foundation.  However, to state that it makes the allegations against him irrelevent smacks of an "ends justifies the means" argument.

So what will this do to his legacy?  That remains to be seen.  Some will support him no matter what.  Others will condemn him no matter what.  Some that did not have an opinion one way or another will probably join those who condemn him but there are those who did not have an opinion before who will probably not have one now.  Only the fullness of time will tell us what impact the report will have on his legacy.

As for his personal reputation I would say it has been permanently damaged.  Although him and his supporters will always be able to point to his good works the USADA report will always be there casting a shadow over him and his work.