Wednesday, April 2, 2014

McGuinty/Wynne: A culture of incompetence

One theme that caught my attention in reviewing my web sources this morning relates to a post I'm slowly working on about a traditional topic - energy planning in Ontario - and the leak of budget strategy documents in Ontario showing the governing party enlisting the bureaucracy in a campaign to bolster the electoral chances of the governing Liberal Party.

Scott Stinson: Wynne’s Ontario budget leaks plan suggest Liberals have embraced politics above all else:
...the Ontario Liberals’ month-long pre-budget “communications rollout” that was leaked to the opposition PCs, apparently by disgruntled civil servants, and released on Monday, is something to behold.
It’s not that any one of the items that PC finance critic Vic Fedeli said added up to almost $6-billion in new spending was particularly surprising, and it’s not that the government has engaged the non-partisan bureaucracy in developing its plans, since the civil service is always acting to some degree at the behest of its political masters, but it’s the breadth of the thing that shows just how much the Liberals are developing not just a budget, but an election strategy. And it shows how, even under Kathleen Wynne, this government is putting politics ahead of all other considerations.
The Toronto Star is pointing the finger for the leak's trigger at a labour dispute between the party and professional public servants:

... the finger-pointing for the source of leak has begun with a unionized government manager emerging as a possible suspect
AMAPCEO, which on Sunday voted 94 per cent in favour of a strike for the first time its history, represents 11,500 professional and supervisory Ontario government employees working in every ministry and many agencies, boards and commissions.
“Talks have not been going well,” a senior Liberal said hours after Hudak and Tory MPP Vic Fedeli (Nipissing) released the “communications rollout” of Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s May 1 spending plan.
AMAPCEO president Gary Gannage said, “in this environment you’re always looking for a scapegoat.
“I have no reason to think it’s AMAPCEO — AMAPCEO members are professionals. There’s a lot of disillusionment and anger in the Ontario public service right now,” said Gannage.
How would it feel?

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA), the entity legally tasked with developing Integrated Power System Plans (IPSP), has posted a "Memorandum of Understanding between the Minister of Energy and The Chair of The Ontario Power Authority."  I didn't read it, but I got a chuckle out of it. The McGuinty/Wynne government essentially abandoned professional planning in 2008 with the introduction of the Green Energy Act - gave a half-hearted stab at returning to it in 2011 (burying the resulting IPSP draft), and under the current Premier and Minister of Energy have abandoned it altogether.  This is problematic because the unloved minority government can't kill the OPA (legislation to do so died when McGuinty prorogued the Parliament as the unfolding gas plant scandal made it clear he was a pro rogue himself); none of the parties in government want it to exist, but none will work together on reworking the sector.

Employment by the Goverment of Ontario has been
declining for many years.
So the OPA's folks, after years alternating between doing serious work only to be ignored and following idiotic Ministerial directives, have their eye on unionizing.  Thus the agreement setting out some boundaries either to avoid what was cryptically referred to as "third party intervention" during my years at a big organization, or as the first outcome of its inevitability.

The Globe Adam Radwanski has a column exploring feelings about selling Ontario's assets to give Toronto stuff it's not willing to think through doing intelligently it's dang self.

The news inspired me to re-read my own Manning Up: A Weak Week for Ontario in the Electricity Sector, et al., from a pre-budget period 2 years ago - which I invite others to read as the latest attempt to purchase an election unfolds.

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