I bet I said that to myself half a dozen times this week.
From people complaining about how Huntsville Council fills vacancies on that body, to rotating strikes across the province mandated by teachers’ unions, to activists hijacking the Canadian economy by blockading our national railways. Really, enough already!
Here in Huntsville, there has been a lot of debate around whether, in the wake of former-mayor Scott Aitchison’s election as our member of parliament, his position should be filled by election or appointment. Ultimately it was filled by appointment, but there was a lot of fuss and bother and back-stabbing until that happened. Then, there was more concern about the decision to fill the vacant seat on council by appointment. At the end of the day, it all turned out fine and we saved a hundred grand or so to boot.
We have a hard-working and competent mayor in Karin Terziano and an experienced and energetic councillor in Bob Stone to take her place as the representative for Huntsville Ward. The process council came up with to fill the vacant ward seat on council was a good one. Only one person could win but it identified a number of qualified people dedicated to Huntsville and to public service. It should make the next municipal election interesting!
But now it is time to move on and let this council get back down to work. Many challenges face our community, from roads to infrastructure to protecting our health care facilities to growing our economy through appropriate development and finding ways to increase affordable housing. Generally speaking, we have a good group of people representing us, all of whom, at one point or another, have successfully faced the electorate. We need to let them do their job.
Moving now to the provincial level, the escalating altercation between the Government of Ontario and the teachers’ unions is disturbing to say the least. As I have said before, I do not blame the teachers. I honour them and the serious responsibility they have in educating young people. But it is those very students that are being hurt. These walk-outs can only be disruptive for them and for their parents.
I do blame the teachers’ unions and the government, however. They have had time to settle this dispute and have failed to do so. In my view, three things need to happen and to happen soon.
First, teachers need to be legislated back to work. Most would much prefer to be in the classroom than on the picket line. Most importantly, students need their teachers and they need them now.
Second, current issues between the teachers’ unions and the government need to be settled by an independent arbitrator without ties to either the government or the unions. Both have had their chance. It is high time to get on with this.
Third, and I think very importantly, there needs to be a serious examination, perhaps at the royal commission level, of our education system in Ontario, which in my view is badly in need of reform. In many ways it is antiquated, divided, and much too loaded with bureaucracy and dysfunctional school boards. We need to spend more time thinking about whether the system actually works and whether our young people, in this day and age, are being properly prepared for a future which will be much different than that which many of us have experienced.
We need to reinvent our educational system with a new vision, thinking outside the box. There are many good examples out there. Scandinavian countries have education systems that are highly rated, deal very effectively with the ‘whole child’, develop relevant skills for practical applications, and do this within a relatively reasonable economic framework. Ontario needs to take a hard look at that.
And now to the highest level of government in Canada. This disruption of our national rail service needs to be stopped now. We may not feel the effect in Huntsville, especially as we are denied passenger rail service as a matter of course. But it certainly is having an effect on our economy. Products across the country are not getting to market. Badly needed supplies are not getting to their destination and passengers along urban routes in Canada are not getting to where they need to be for business or personal reasons.
I am shocked to hear myself say this, but there are times when I would prefer to have Pierre Elliott Trudeau as our prime minister than his son Justin. This is one of those times. I saw a quote from P.E.T. posted recently where he was characteristically clear in his view about blockades or disruptions of any kind that denied Canadians freedom of movement. He was equally clear about what he would do about it. “Just watch me” comes to mind.
Our current prime minister says it is up to the police to enforce the law, and the government should not interfere. Nonsense. He certainly felt differently when it came to SNC Lavalin. Government’s first responsibility is to safeguard the well-being of Canadians. Their well-being is at serious risk when some groups, no matter how incented, are allowed to hijack a major part of our national transportation system and ignore the rule of law. It is not something to talk about, at least not for very long. It is something that requires definitive action.
Where is the leadership in this regard? Is it more important to be in Africa campaigning for a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council or to be bowing and scraping to a senior Iranian official whose country had only recently shot down a plane that murdered 57 Canadian citizens? In my view, at the first sign of a national blockade, Justin Trudeau should have flown home.
Indigenous people and the non-Indigenous activists who support them have the right to protest even when many of their Indigenous communities disagree with them. But they, or any other group of individuals, have no right to cripple our railway system, harm our economy, disrupt our freedom of movement, or threaten our safety.
And so, I say once again: enough already!
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