There is a quotation from Abraham Lincoln that ends, “… you can never please all of the people all of the time.” I thought of this when I read Tasha Kheiriddin’s column in Tuesday's National Post op-ed page.
Kheiriddin self-describes as “a life-long small-c conservative. I [Kheiriddin] supported the Common Sense Revolution of Mike Harris. I [Kheiriddin] believe in balanced budgets, low taxes and value for money. I [Kheiriddin] like the PCs’ plans for ending corporate welfare and encouraging job creation.”
She then launches into a harangue of why she “can’t vote for Tim Hudak” in the June 12 Ontario general election. Curious that, since Hudak is the leader of the only small-c conservative party running in that election.
Kheiriddin complains that Tim Hudak’s proposed spending cuts will affect her four-year-old daughter, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, because her daughter won’t do well in a class that contains 30 kids, or worse, if classes were increased by the “two or three students” proposed by Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives.
She says it is by sheer luck that her daughter is able to attend a modified program with shorter summer holidays and longer breaks elsewhere in the year, with class sizes of about 20 students and worries that project might disappear under the PCs’ proposal.
So why is she worried? Here’s a summary of Hudak’s plan for education:
Our plan focuses on concrete steps that improve student achievement, especially in the areas we have been falling behind, like math. Simply put: our schools exist to give our children the best possible education and the best shot at a successful life. That principle underlies everything we will do in education.”
Does that sound threatening?
How about the following?
The PCs are promising to protect core education. They say they will “protect the core services that our children rely on by reducing some non-core areas of spending. …[however]we spend $8.5 billion more on education than we did 10 years ago, to teach 250,000 fewer students … [so] choices have to be made about what approaches offer the best results.”
Sounds pretty reasonable to me. Moreover, for parents like Kheiriddin with kids with special needs, the PCs promise to “Help those who need it most.” For them, Hudak says, his government “will invest in schools and individual students who need the extra help.”
Kheiriddin may be right in part, however. Under a PC government—a small-c conservative government—the government will likely not be all things to all people. Difficult decisions will have to be made, and some of us may have to take financial responsibility for specific programs or services the government does not pay for. (My wife and I complain every time we receive a stiff bill from our dentist.)
The reality is that Ontario has been mismanaged for over a decade with billions of dollars wasted—spent on a failed green energy scheme that’s since been thoroughly discredited, or wasted on the province’s eHealth IT system project or squandered on its Ornge air ambulance services, not to mention the billion-dollar gas plant fiasco.
Once the province’s books have been balanced, perhaps some much needed services can be added to what already is—and will continue to be under the PCs—a very comprehensive social safety net.
As to Kheiriddin’s call for “better teachers,” “bonuses for high-achieving teachers,” teachers helped by “support staff” and “the best and brightest to attend teachers college with incentives, financial or otherwise?” Good luck getting any of that under a Liberal or New Democratic government.
Rewarding excellence and rating high achievement or giving special rewards to the “best and brightest” are the antithesis to how unions operate—their way is to treat everyone equally and reward/promote by seniority. And since the teachers’ unions call the shots in this province, Kheiriddin’s excellent suggestions for our education system are but a pipe dream so long as progressives govern the province.
I don’t question Tasha Kheiriddin’s credentials as “a life-long small-c conservative.” I’m sure she sees herself in those terms. I do wonder, however, just how deep her political convictions go.
If she spoils her ballot on June 12 or does not vote at all, she is not being true to our democracy. And should she vote for any of the other parties, she will have to renounce her conservatives values for she’ll find nothing like them in the other parties, which are all progressive to one degree or the other.