A corrosive week for Ontario democracy
At the end of my first week back in the Legislature, I ask myself: “How am I supposed to explain this to my constituents?” I am proud and honoured to represent the people of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek at Queen’s Park. My constituents have placed their trust in me to represent their views and concerns fairly, and to hold this government to its obligations to the people of Ontario. However, a week of scandal, alleged bribery, and deflection has diminished this place. Phrases like “alleged bribery” should have no place in our public life. Weeks like this damage our democracy and the already-strained trust in Ontario politics.
This week, Premier Kathleen Wynne has repeatedly insulted Ontarians. She refuses to admit any mistakes. She refuses to concede that anything untoward has happened. In the face of the damning findings of the OPP and Elections Ontario, she refuses to hold Gerry Lougheed and Pat Sorbara accountable. She has sat silently when asked direct questions in the Assembly, enlisting her deputy to take the flak for her. She has attempted to deflect from Liberal scandals by hurling accusations at other parties. Today, the Premier sank to her lowest ebb yet. She cast aspersions on the good name of every opposition MPP and offered not a shred of evidence to back up her claim.
Trust in government depends on trust in public officials. Previous Premiers understood this. They required ministers and staff to resign when under investigation, because the public’s trust in the office must be protected. At this juncture, the public cannot be expected to place their trust in Gerry Lougheed or Pat Sorbara. After her appalling performances this week, Ontarians can hardly place their trust in Kathleen Wynne either.
How can a man under criminal investigation be allowed to continue overseeing the Sudbury police? How can one of the Premier’s closest aides remain at the heart of Ontario’s government while she is under criminal investigation? Above all, how can the Premier of Ontario not recognize the damage she is doing to the public’s trust in government?
It is time for the Premier to show real leadership to Ontarians. Real leaders make hard choices. They admit their mistakes. They swallow their pride. They recognize that the integrity of their office is more important than the pride of its occupant.
It is time for the Premier to take responsibility. The denials, deflections, and cover-ups must end today.
MPP, Hamilton East-Stoney Creek.