Mang asks, who's going to fight for the little guy?
We are on Day 30 of the civic strike here in Toronto.
In the past month, we’ve seen hostility directed toward unions, most often by citizens who have incorrect conceptions of unions or by embittered right-wingers afflicted with existences so miserable that they wish for a life of extreme suckitude for everyone else.
Amidst this yelling, arrows have been fired by the left and by labour at the usually union-friendly Toronto Mayor David Miller.
Miller has made a number of errors in this past month of strike action. His gun-slinger, tough-guy “enough is enough” rhetoric, his exposing details of a deal to the general public, his refusal (and other Councillors are to blame too) to roll back the 2.4% pay increase recently given (read: voted on) to Councillors and the Mayor, his tiresome reliance on the recession as an excuse to not offer CUPE what every other city union has received. These add up to some furious feelings rightly directed at Miller.
But if not Miller in 2010, who? John Tory? Denzil Minnan-Wong or Karen Stintz or Furious George Smitherman? Do you think any of these people will be better for progressives, for anyone who fights for social justice? The answer is “no.”
A mayor beholden to the right, to developers and business, will not be good for unions. Indeed, a right-wing mayor will not be good for the public interest.
Union jobs and a strong public service will be battered and bruised, trimmed and cut, as bits and pieces are auctioned off to the private sector. There will be more public-private partnerships (P3s) and more alternate service delivery (ASD) arrangements; a wholesale corporatization of public services. And as I’ve noted in past posts, P3s and ASDs are not typically cost-effective, are not transparent and accountable to the public, may not serve all citizens equitably and fairly, and are not democratically responsive when public services are handed over to the private sector.
We get who we vote for and if we fire Miller, we’ll elect a pro-business mayor who will privatize, outsource, cut public services and do all the things right-wing politicians typically do to reward their corporate supporters. Research indicates that politicians who are supported by developers and corporations through campaign contributions, are friendlier to developers and corporations through policy decisions.
Be annoyed. Be frustrated. Be angry. But when it comes to the next municipal election in 2010, who will be best for progressives and who will surrender our great city to Big Business?