The longest serving woman MPP in Ontario history, Elizabeth Witmer, resigned her seat just six months after being re-elected as the member for Kitchener-Waterloo, a riding she represented for 22 years. Liberal patronage has delivered her from elected government service and deposited her at a converted spot at the public trough, chairwoman of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
I don’t get it. Just six months ago, Ms. Witmer was campaigning, successfully, for public office. On Friday, though, she resigns from the very office she worked so hard to win. If she was not ready to fulfil her term, why run? Now she has given the Grits a second chance at a majority government.
Moreover, if she wanted out, why not seek employment in the open market like most of us, instead of accepting a patronage appointment that hands her a job without the benefit of open competition?
The 65-year-old Ms. Witmer will earn $188,000 a year in the full-time, five-year appointment, a nice step up from the $119,487 she earned as an MPP. Plus, I’m sure they’ll be many perks—there always are in those high-paid patronage jobs.
Ms. Witmer has proved herself to be a gifted and able woman—former deputy premier, and former environment, education and health minister—she didn’t need a job handed to her. And the job should not have been Dalton McGuinty’s to hand out as patronage. Important posts like that of the chairperson of the WSIB should be filled through open compensation so that every qualified candidate can have an even chance of getting the job.
This is a big loss for the Progressive Conservatives. Tim Hudak’s team isn’t so deep that he can afford a defection like this. Personally, I think Ms. Witmer’s departure speaks volumes about the state of the Tory caucus and Tim Hudak’s leadership.