Labour opposed to Order of Ontario appointment for Mike Harris

To the Editor:

If they ever existed, the ethical and moral standards associated with the Order of Ontario are now forever tarnished with the possible appointment of former Premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, to the Order of Ontario.

After being elected by a minority of Ontario electors to two terms of unconscionable slash and burn policies Harris was finally tossed from office in 2002. This many years later each day we are forced to witness and endure the damage done to Ontario by Mike Harris and his sycophantic caucus. We are faced with underfunded public services and privatized services that have, with only the rarest of exceptions, approached service and accessibility that existed before their politically motivated privatization.

Illusions propagated by conservative circles and Conservative politicians try and portray Harris and his so called “common sense revolution” as a response to overspending in the public sector.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” notes Grey Bruce Labour Council President, Kevin Smith. “Harris had an agenda, and it was to accomplish two fundamental alterations to Ontario. Firstly, attack in as ruthless, amoral and unethical a manner as possible those who would be able to mount a credible obstacle to selling Ontario off. Harris, initially, went after the labour movement and the unions that represented those workers most likely to be harmed by the Harris’ privatization dogma. Harris and his minions knew that any organization, such as labour, that was able to self-fund and had over 100 years of socially progressive activity, would be antithetical to his plans. As a result, labour laws and social programs were attacked, not to mention the Harris driven profound lies vilifying union and labour leadership.”

“Once sewing the seeds designed to harm unions and the labour movement in general in Ontario had delivered enough in the way of results, Harris and his caucus of corporate ‘bootlicks’ moved to do all that was possible to privatize as many public services as possible. Not to improve service as the intrinsic conservative myth of privatization goes, but to ensure that the Harris handlers and those who controlled him would be able to fill their pockets at the expense of the Ontario public,” says Labour Council VP for Bruce, Dave Trumble.

Fast forward to 2020 and Mike Harris sits on the board of a private long-term care home that has made record profits this year while seniors were laying in filthy rooms, crying out for help and without care as COVID-19 swept through their facilities. The Mike Harris era is a shameful page in the history of Ontario and Harris should be ashamed to face the people of this province and should be held accountable for those unnecessary deaths and suffering. He must not be getting awards!

Chris Stephen, Labour Council VP for Grey adds that, “The reprehensible and boldly insensitive nomination of Harris for any type of award, let alone the Order of Ontario is a slap in the face to all of the families whose loved ones suffered under his leadership. Not to mention the thousands, perhaps millions, who have lost access and services so necessary for health, social services, social assistance, and so much more.”

“The Mike Harris government was a tragedy for Ontario and the repugnant legacy of this government remains with us. In our own region, we need look no further than the Walkerton water tragedy, slashing school resources or, only a few miles away, his disgusting attitude toward the crisis at Ipperwash, says Labour Council President, Smith.  “I don’t know if any letter or press release could adequately show the damage done by Harris as Premier or since, but it is clear that our great province has many daughters and sons we should be proud of and honour, including teachers, frontline workers, public employees and healthcare workers who have put themselves at risk to save us and aid us during this pandemic – Mike Harris is not on that list and must not be given any award that would suggest he has done anything of value for the people of Ontario.”

Grey Bruce Labour Council.