Volume 95, Issue 30

Thursday, October 25, 2001
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Gay representation? Go ahead, no one's stoppin' ya

Mike Harris: leader or loser?

Mike Harris: leader or loser?

Goodbye Mike – you may have been premier, but you were never a leader.

In the last six years you branded this province with an irrevocable mark.

You scrapped, you dismantled and you ripped apart the heart of this province and rebuilt it according to your own skewed vision of 'common sense.'

At times, the changes you made were necessary, but often one got the feeling the surgery you inflicted upon the infrastructure of Ontario was equivalent to a six-year-old trying to play doctor.

No politician in the history of Ontario has worn so many different faces: savior, sinner, bogeyman, golf pro, destroyer, innovator, pudgy little money-grubbing troll [perhaps that one's not a mask].

Sadly, leadership was not one of the options for the masquerade.

True leadership involves a give and take relationship with those you are elected to represent. It involves dictating when the need arises, but also listening to the pulse of the entire electorate. You have always been deaf to anything but your own message.

Leadership is about compromise, trust and respect. A vast percentage of voters did not cast their ballot for you in 1995 and, during your re-election in 1999, more voted against you than for you.

Yet you continually treated anyone with an ounce of criticism for your neo-conservative crusade as an insignificant fool.

Bullying and ignorance do not make a leader; a half-assed attempt at empathy and conciliation could have gone a long way.

A leader should also be judged by what they did for the lowest common denominator within society. Mike, instead of pulling up the little guys, you kicked them while they were down.

You have decreased the number of people on welfare rolls by 500,000 since 1995; most were abandoned by a system which lacks a tracking mechanism to monitor their post-welfare fate.

You eliminated rent controls and transferred the responsibility for low-income housing upon already burdened municipalities.

Because of you, the number of people falling through the cracks in Ontario is growing – 60,000 families were evicted from their homes last year alone.

What if someone who has children to feed has a debilitating accident at work? What if the conditions of a society at war cause a massive spiral in the job market?

Mr. Harris, you have cultivated an Ontario that is greedy, cold and self-serving – with a social infrastructure which is severely lacking.

The final testament of a good leader is the ability to stand strong and weather a storm.

It was easy to use a surging North American economy as the backdrop for all your draconian changes. But, due to the events of Sept. 11, we now face an Ontario with an unstable economic future.

Meanwhile, Ipperwash and Walkerton are perched like albatrosses on each of your shoulders.

Goodbye Mike. We need a leader – somewhere along the way, you lost the right to wear that hat.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001