Listening to the Ontario government speak about their economic record this week was reminiscent of reading “Kejserens nye Klæder” as a child. The Premier has been telling Ontarians that the province is in good fiscal shape and that we have surpassed our deficit targets for the past four years.
During such economic pronouncements by the Premier, the television cameras inside the Ontario legislature show the Ministers shaking their heads in agreement. In front of the Premier, the Ministers pretend that the finances are in fact in good shape, as they fear for their livelihoods if they say otherwise.
The Liberal party members applaud as the Premier circulates among the common folk telling us all how lucky we are to live in Ontario and stating her government’s plan to invest in people, invest in infrastructure and ensure the appropriate climate to conduct business.
As the Premier travels from riding to riding, shaking hands and posing for pictures, the vast majority of Ontarians are struggling to keep up with the economic realities of the past 10 years: lost manufacturing jobs, rising energy costs, new personal taxes, provincial scandals costing billions in addition to soaring deficits and debt.
Ontarians were prepared in the past not to question the Premier and her predecessor on the economic reality facing the province. The common folk were prepared to play along not wanting to be seen as ignorant by the Premier and the Liberal party.
However in Anytown, Ontario, there lived a young girl named Lucy who was an excellent student at her local public school. Lucy displayed a keen interest in math and public policy and decided to review the current financial situation, as she was concerned about the future of Ontario.
When the Premier visited Anytown to pose with the common folk and announce a new commission to engage with stakeholders, Lucy was on hand and questioned the Premier’s fiscal assertions. The common folk were shocked.
Lucy had just made statements that the common folk had been stating privately for quite some time. The Premier ‘wasn’t wearing any clothes’ and the people knew it. The common folk were now unafraid to say out loud what they had been saying privately.
The Premier also knew that Lucy was right but was afraid of Ontarian’s reaction if she publicly confirmed the fiscal reality. The Premier retreated to her pink palace where she continued to surround herself with Ministers who were afraid to confront the Premier with the fiscal truth.
Meanwhile across the aisle was Little Boy Blue who was blowing his own horn about the economic situation in Ontario. “We have white papers full of ideas as well as a plan,” stated Blue. As it turns out, documents now suggest that if there was an election campaign earlier in 2013, Blue was going to announce that he would eliminate the deficit in half the time promised by the Liberals.
Obviously Little Boy Blue is also surrounding himself with the same type of people as the Premier. Advisors unwilling to tell him that he too ‘isn’t wearing any clothes.’
Our Ontario politicians are living in a fairy tale world. And we’re not sure if this story will end with a happy ending.