New Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne’s first day on the job seemed sanguine enough. She came across as someone keen on consensus building. As she herself said, Cabinet making is tough and striking a balance between the various compulsions – especially heading a minority government that has to be election ready at all times – makes the matchmaking even more onerous. From our perspective, she’s got it right, for where else will we have an India-born (Harinder Takhar) and a Pakistan-born (Yasir Naqvi) at the same Cabinet table?
No wonder Naqvi’s appointment was big news in the Frontier Post and Takhar’s re-appointment to the Cabinet – he has had a berth there since Dalton McGuinty’s first days in office – met with derision in the Toronto Star. Such is the lot of politicians from immigrant backgrounds who don’t quite know how to play ball with star columnists, as we have already observed during the Liberal leadership campaign.
All of this might just be window-dressing and tokenism as Ontario faces hard realities with a yawning budget deficit, much-needed infrastructure upgrades and a popular feeling that McGuinty lost his sense of purpose somewhere along his long years in office. The Education Premier has left parents caught between unruly teachers and their children who have been shut out from extracurricular activities. The classroom should be sacred ground. Children should never be exposed to this sort of brinkmanship and we wonder if the teachers will ever regain the respect of this generation of Ontario grade-school students.
Her new education minister Liz Sandals surely brings the right credentials to the job, although her first interviews didn’t inspire much confidence with her repeated use of the word “stakeholders” – as if students were just widgets in some grand bargain. We cannot over-emphasize how important the task of restoring tranquility in the classroom is and Sandals is right when she says the public is long past caring who is to blame. They want this stalemate fixed. Period.
Wynne’s gender and orientation are largely irrelevant to the challenges facing the province.
It will be interesting to see if her government brings back the incentive floated during the last elections to encourage employers to hire more newcomers, who could definitely use a leg up in these uncertain times. That suggestion turned into a lightning rod when the Opposition leader Tim Hudak confused immigrants with “foreigners” and came out strongly against it.
The new premier clearly struck the right note when she said, “Our dreams may be articulated in English or in French or in Mohawk or in Cree or in Urdu, but they speak to a collective vision that must be celebrated and pursued.” She must know that her province is home to the largest number of immigrants, for many of whom the promise of Ontario and Canada remains a distant dream. – New Canadian Media