The Hidden History of Bob Rae’s government in Ontario


mentalfloss
#1
Is this propaganda or is there some truth to this.. You be the judge..


The Hidden History of Bob Rae’s Government in Ontario

When the NDP won government in Ontario exactly 20 years ago, it constituted the greatest advance for social democracy in North American history.

It’s true that British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba had all elected NDP governments and that progressives had won small victories in various parts of the United States. But none of them (I hope this doesn’t hurt their feelings) mattered in the same way Ontario then did. It was the economic heartland of Canada, the home of much of Canada's industry and finance. What happened in Ontario impacted all Canadians. Now it was under the control of Bob Rae and the New Democrats.

Reflecting this reality, within months Mr. Rae's government faced an unrelenting, brutal four-year onslaught that was unprecedented in Canadian history.


The attacks came from all sides. It is no exaggeration to say hysterical fear-mongering and sabotage was the order of the day.
Launched within the very first year of the new government, the attackers included every manner of business big and small, both Canadian and American-owned, almost all private media, the police (especially in Toronto), landlords and lobbying/government relations firms. Their goal was clear, and they had the money and power to achieve it.

They were determined to undermine the government every step of the way, to frustrate the implementation of its plans and to assure its ultimate defeat. In all three goals they were successful. The considerable achievements of the government – often forgotten or dismissed –were wrought in the face of a deep recession and ferocious obstruction.

The tactics were not necessarily subtle. Though the Soviet Union was ignominiously imploding, right-wing columnists such as Diane Francis and Barbara Amiel actually resorted to old-fashioned red baiting, smearing the government as “red” or “communist.” And after the new finance minister's very first meeting with the banking community , a bank vice-president told him, in the presence of an aide: “Nice speech, Mr. Minister, but we're going to kill you.” And they did.

Conrad Black was a leading executioner. Lord Black swore loudly that on principle he'd never invest in Ontario under an NDP government. Other corporate interests threatened a virtual strike of capital unless the government relented on its intentions to introduce higher business taxes and to strengthen union rights, environmental regulations and equity programs.

Mr. Rae and treasurer Floyd Laughren made themselves easily accessible to business representatives, many of whom ran Canadian branch plants of huge American multinationals, only to be threatened with capital blackmail. The premier was warned that their U.S. head offices weren't about to invest further in Ontario unless the government abandoned most of the programs it had run on.

Bond traders declared that slashing government programs to reduce the deficit was a prerequisite to Ontario borrowing at competitive rates, even though Ontario’s deficit was equivalent to that of Conservative-run Alberta. Suddenly the entire media was fixated on the government’s threatened credit ratings, never mind that Ontario had the only Standard & Poor’s AAA rating in the country. The Social Credit government in British Columbia, the Conservatives in Alberta and Robert Bourassa’s Liberals in Quebec all had lower credit ratings. Yet only in Ontario was the government threatened.

NDP government decision-makers, while innocent about so much, at least understood that the corporate world was not given to bluffing. Time after time they responded to the endless corporate blackmail by compromising on policies and commitments. In this way, they alienated many of their own followers but without ever appeasing business interests. They never could.

Some business protests bordered on the disloyal. Hysterical landlords took out an ad in The Wall Street Journal warning Americans not to invest in “leftist Ontario.” Others demanded the complete repudiation by the government of its most cherished legislation, as when several coalitions of powerful business interests, managed by government relations firms such as Hill & Knowlton, demanded the NDP scrap its entire plan to amend the Labour Relations Act. This was the kind of class warfare Lenin might have admired, especially since the government had already withdrawn many of its intended changes in order to meet business criticism.

One front organization, the “All-Business Coalition,” won headlines for warning that amendments the government had already disavowed would cost 450,000 jobs and cost $20-billion in investment. All the while the same groups were deliberately frightening investment away from the province.

Hostility to these fictional amendments also led to unusual solidarity among Toronto's rival newspapers. Of course hostile editorials were fully expected. Less predictable were the full-page statements in the press denouncing the labor amendments. Even more unprecedented was the delegation consisting of the publishers of all three dailies who appeared in the premier's office to express their hostility in person. The media in general played a key role in mobilizing perpetual hostility to the government, with business columnists regularly stirring up their readers while the Toronto Sun especially wallowed in the sheer joy of unrestrained excess and fabrication.

Throughout the five years of the Rae government, the Sun was its most powerful and effective foe, doing everything in its considerable power to damage the government. It repeatedly set the agenda for the entire media, even though competing reporters knew much of it was sheer hooey. The Sun gleefully sensationalized embarrassing facts, mere rumors, vicious innuendos and obvious lies, with no attempt to discriminate among them.

Perhaps the most chilling and underestimated of the government's enemies were the Toronto police, whose actions at times bordered dangerously on virtual insubordination against the civilian authorities. Here too certain newspapers and radio commentators repeatedly and deliberately inflamed angry officers against the government. Most successful was the Sun’s ongoing, systematic campaign to drive a wedge between the government and the Toronto police force, sometimes with the collusion of the police themselves.

The Sun and senior Toronto police officials maintained a troubling relationship. In one particularly outrageous episode, they colluded in smearing an NDP appointee to the police board on the very evening of her swearing-in. The Sun published intimate information on the appointee that could come, many thought, only from the office of the chief. Sun readers then began their 1991 Victoria Day weekend with a huge banner headline proclaiming “COP COMMISSIONER PART OF OPP PROBE”. The story claimed the new appointee had been discovered in a car in the middle of the night with a very shady operator connected to an even shadier operator.

It was a blatant frame-up. On Victoria Day itself, the Sun came clean. They publicly acknowledged the sheer impossibility of anyone confusing the police commission member with the real passenger the OPP had found in the car. A Sun reporter described an “undeclared but very real state of war that exists between the new, NDP-appointed members of the police board and the great majority of the Metro [Toronto] force.” But that was pure mischief. The only war was the one the Sun was methodically fomenting.

The government introduced regulations that substituted the Constitution for the Queen in the oath that cops had to swear. Many media swiftly exploited the occasion to further exacerbate tensions between the police and the NDP. Yet the change had actually been initiated by the previous Liberal government and had been recommended by a committee consisting mainly of police. Their work had been completed when the NDP took office; the Rae government was simply implementing their recommendations.

I documented these facts publicly after interviewing numerous police reps, every one of whom supported the new oath. Nor could they see what the big deal was about. I asked the Toronto Sun, CFRB radio and CFTO-TV, who had most flagrantly misled the public on the issue, to demonstrate good faith by apologizing. Not one admitted the slightest fault. Good faith was in short supply in those years.

There are a world of studies yet to be written about the Ontario NDP's difficult and controversial years in office, none more important than the nature of the saboteurs who organized their very own Ontario coup. This includes much of the business community, government relations firms, the media and the police. There are lessons to learn here about the limits of left-wing politics in Canada. None of them are encouraging if you are a left-winger.


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...1749515/page2/
 
damngrumpy
No Party Affiliation
#2
I do believe the large corporate interests damaged the efforts of the NDP in Ontario.
Their prime motivation was to spread fear, not as a conspiracy but because they
themselves were consumed by fear and that is even worse. The fact is when you
keep crying wolf and spread fear and hysteria eventually, like any other drug it
wears off at some point. Like the death of a romantic relationship the first feeling is
hurt, followed by fear, and eventually it turns into anger and that is what is happening
with the voters in this election. When you reach the anger stage you want change.
To some degree the fear that was engineered against the Rae Government was used
elsewhere and now the chickens are coming home to roost. As in most cases, the
fears of yesterday, are shown to be not as serious as predicted and people loose their
fear and replace it with anger.
 
Machjo
#3
Had Rae been smart, he would have turned them into friends. For instance, let's suppose he had simply introduced co-determination legislation as is in Germany and Sweden, suddenly a more democratic workplace would have forced labour and management to work together, making it more difficult for corporations to then turn political.
 
earth_as_one
#4
Yes Rae was sabotaged. The same thing could happen to Layton if he doesn't kow tow to the powers that be.

Tommy Douglas initially found himself in the same hot water as Rae. Luckily he came to power during an economic boom and was able to absorb the fiscal problems imposed on him by the banks. Douglas paid the banks first, before implementing his fiscal social agenda. In other words, he did not borrow to pay for his social programs. He raised capital first. If Layton becomes PM, hopefully he'll learn from Rae and model his approach to fiscal responsibility after Douglas.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_D...f_Saskatchewan

Compare Douglas to Bush, who increased spending and decreased taxes at the same time. Then he started two wars. What an idiot.
 
Machjo
#5
Should the NDP first raise taxes, pay off the debt, then gradually increase spending on certain programs, be they job training, First Nations education, etc. then it might work. The question is, whether or not the MPs in Parliament will have that kind of self-discipline.

I must say that this worries me a little too:

Layton vows not to meddle in Bank of Canada rates - Canada Votes 2011 - CBC News

Definitely we don't want a government keeping interest rates artificially law at the cost of inflation. A responsible government would keep interest rates low by raising taxes, reducing spending, or both as a means of reducing the money supply via fiscal means, not just by keeping them low by decree.

Now as for keeping interest rates artificially low, yes it may create jobs, but also risks raising inflation (which hurts the poor most since they can't hedge). Add to that that inflationary job creation is never stable as it encourages people to borrow and spend before interest rates or inflation rise further. Eventually, once people can't borrow any more, then the economy becomes dependent on inflation to maintain the jobs it has, thus making it ever more vulnerable. Then what, artificially lower interest rates further and create even more inflation to create even more jobs? To the extreme, we'd see the Weimar Republic all over again.
 
CDNBear
+1
#6
Ya, poor bobby was sabotaged...

He was approached by big businesses like Cesna, BMW, and he wouldn't even meet with them.

Instead, those two companies decided to head south. BMW settled in North Carolina, and I don't know where Cesna settled.

He was so anti business, there's no wonder they lashed out at him.
 
Machjo
#7
Of course there is a difference between a company moving out of Ontario as part of a conspiracy to sabotage the government, and a company moving out purely on economic grounds, in which case it's nothing personal. I doubt very much there was much of a conspiracy against Rae. While there is such a thing as a fiscally conservative socialist, clearly rae wasn't one of them. Suck it up, Rae.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

Ya, poor bobby was sabotaged...

He was approached by big businesses like Cesna, BMW, and he wouldn't even meet with them.

Instead, those two companies decided to head south. BMW settled in North Carolina, and I don't know where Cesna settled.

He was so anti business, there's no wonder they lashed out at him.

Independence Kansas.... Funny, there's not a thing on Google about any deal between Rae and Cessna. You can provide a link, can't you?
 
CDNBear
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

Independence Kansas.... Funny, there's not a thing on Google about any deal between Rae and Cessna.

There was no deal. They wanted to talk, he ignored them.

Quote:

You can provide a link, can't you?

This is 21 years ago now. Good luck.
 
barney
+1
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalfloss View Post

Is this propaganda or is there some truth to this.. You be the judge..

The article is fairly accurate and all of it has been documented--no need to look for conspiracy, as the attacks were conducted quite openly. There's a lot of focus in the article on the Toronto police which is beside the point--it's no secret that the Toronto police force is home to a strong right-wing element, it's always been that way and continues to be so.

The threatened capital strike was mostly show though, for as any business guru in Ontario knows, that would really just be shooting yourself in the foot. But it can be very intimidating to a new government and that's the point--worked like a charm and Rae's people were scared so ****less that they defaulted on many promises just to avoid the perceived wrath of "capital". The article also makes reference to the fact that very little of what the Rae government did was out of the ordinary; the point of the smear campaign was just to hammer it home that any potential meddling in future would not be tolerated and to reduce the chances of NDP re-election. The most ferocious opponents were naturally landlords, particularly owners of large apartment buildings, who make a killing on rent and obviously had the most to lose from rent controls--which were eventually put into place (at the insistence of the urban population) and immediately eradicated when the Conservatives came to power. Toronto is now among the most expensive cities to live in North America, yet it's poverty rate has steadily increased since the Mike Harris days.

Also note that the smear campaign continued when Harris took office by blaming all the province's financial woes on the previous NDP government, which in fact had inherited many of its problems from the Liberal government that came before it. For all their "common sense" talk and criticism of the NDP, the Conservatives, in reality, just added to the province's financial woes during their time in office and Ontario is now a have-not province because of it--this during a supposed resurgence following the recession that the NDP had to deal with. The remnants of that campaign have even made it into this federal election and will of course continue into the next Ontario election, especially now that the new Ontario NDP leader has proclaimed herself to be a "socialist".

And as you can see from the present federal election, the spectre of scaring away foreign (read: American) investment if Canadians should be so foolish as to vote for a leftist government--the NDP is actually centrist by European standards--in Canada is raised by the Conservatives at every opportunity, just as it was prior to and during the NDP years in Ontario. Right-wing propaganda aside, that didn't actually happen in Ontario, nor has it happened in other parts of the world that have elected more progressive governments than the NDP even comes close to.


Considering Ontario is known for having the longest standing succession of Conservative governments in the world, I guess it's not unexpected that those Ontarians benefiting from the previous status quo hit the roof at the thought of a non-right-wing government.

One thing you can take away from that experience is that much of the opposition to the NDP was based on the perceived threat that a government might actually give the low/middle-income population a bit of a break, at the possible cost of a few wealthy people being ever so slightly inconvenienced. Radical commie stuff there.
 
CDNBear
#11
Rent controls caused developers to stop building rental properties. If you're going to lie, at least pick something a little harder to disprove.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
+1
#12
Paid a Hydro bill lately? Thank Mike for privatizing....
 
CDNBear
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

Paid a Hydro bill lately? Thank Mike for privatizing....

What Federal party is he working for?
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

What Federal party is he working for?

Could be behind the scenes with Harper for all I know. Topic context is Ontario....
 
CDNBear
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

Could be behind the scenes with Harper for all I know. Topic context is Ontario....

Could be? Bob Rae is. Context is, by my perception, politicians in play.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

Could be? Bob Rae is. Context is, by my perception, politicians in play.

As a Liberal. He was too far right for hardline Ontario NDP
 
barney
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

Rent controls caused developers to stop building rental properties. If you're going to lie, at least pick something a little harder to disprove.

That's a common line. But I'll give a longer reply because it comes up a lot:

You don't think an economic downturn may have had something to do with that?

And even if that weren't the case, the argument against high property taxes and rent controls is that there wouldn't be enough profit incentive to justify new projects. That's fantasy because the projects remain profitable, though less so, and due to housing being a necessity, it is guaranteed profit, so banks are more than willing to give the loans for those projects. So really all it's saying is that developers and landlords don't like the idea of people getting a break if it means their profits won't be as large.

Many developers have a reputation for being profiteering sleaze-bags for a reason and are in good company with big landlords. Neither gets much sympathy from people, nor do they deserve it. They are expert opportunists that buy up all the land they can, build a piece of crap for nothing and sell it for as much as the market can possibly bear or rent people out of every penny they have far beyond any justifiable cost, knowing full well that there are few housing alternatives available.

And there's another thing the NDP wanted to do and did manage to do to some extent: non-profit housing projects. Providing people with affordable housing has proven to be an economic stimulant as it leaves people in a less financially precarious position and has a positive psychological effect that eventually results in growth as these people are now able to do more. When Harris got in he went after that like there was no tomorrow--every single such project in the province still under construction was immediately privatized.

The NDP didn't really do much but their work in housing generally had a positive impact on the urban population of Ontario--it's just hard for people to remember that because much of that work has been almost completely reversed.
 
CDNBear
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

As a Liberal. He was too far right for hardline Ontario NDP

Yes, I know who Booby is working for. I mentioned that when I made it known that he made an 'accord', not a coalition. When someone posted Iggy's claim that he won't form a coalition.

I really don't care what he is, was, he was terrible for Ontario. Just like Layton was terrible for Toronto.

I don't just pay attention to their contemporary platforms/actions/policies, I look at their history.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#19
He looks terrible for the conditions in which he had to operate. I bet a lot of those provincial employees who bitched about Rae Days wish Bobby was still signing the pay cheques they used to get....
 
CDNBear
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by barney View Post

That's a common line. But I'll give a longer reply because it comes up a lot:

You don't think an economic downturn may have had something to do with that?

No, because the downturn ended and development was still stalled until the controls were lifted, and even then, the developers found a new way to make money. Condo's.

Quote:

And even if that weren't the case, the argument against high property taxes and rent controls is that there wouldn't be enough profit incentive to justify new projects. That's fantasy because the projects remain profitable, though less so, and due to housing being a necessity, it is guaranteed profit, so banks are more than willing to give the loans for those projects. So really all it's saying is that developers and landlords don't like the idea of people getting a break if it means their profits won't be as large.

You did in your own excuse.

Quote:

Many developers have a reputation for being profiteering sleaze-bags for a reason and are in good company with big landlords. Neither gets much sympathy from people, nor do they deserve it. They are expert opportunists that buy up all the land they can, build a piece of crap for nothing and sell it for as much as the market can possibly bear or rent people out of every penny they have far beyond any justifiable cost, knowing full well that there are few housing alternatives available.

Ahh yes, it wasn't poor policy, it was the scumbags developers.

Quote:

And there's another thing the NDP wanted to do and did manage to do to some extent: non-profit housing projects. Providing people with affordable housing has proven to be an economic stimulant as it leaves people in a less financially precarious position and has a positive psychological effect that eventually results in growth as these people are now able to do more. When Harris got in he went after that like there was no tomorrow--every single such project in the province still under construction was immediately privatized.

What's wrong with privatizing Co-ops? They got built. Hell Layton sure loved his subsidized housing.

Quote:

The NDP didn't really do much but their work in housing generally had a positive impact on the urban population of Ontario--it's just hard for people to remember that because much of that work has been almost completely reversed.

That's a shame.

Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

He looks terrible for the conditions in which he had to operate. I bet a lot of those provincial employees who bitched about Rae Days wish Bobby was still signing the pay cheques they used to get....

We had provincial employee lay offs? Pay cheque roll backs?
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#21
How many Provincial highways were downloaded onto the municipalities? Water works? Airlines? How about Ontario Hydro? Are you trying to say the folks who did the work are still on provincial payroll?
 
CDNBear
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

How many Provincial highways were downloaded onto the municipalities?

Primary or secondary?

Quote:

Water works?

They stopped getting paid?

Quote:

Airlines?

The province shouldn't own airlines. I don't think they did anyways.

Quote:

Are you trying to say the folks who did the work are still on provincial payroll?

My bad, I didn't think of municipal pay cheques. Same thing.
 
Avro
No Party Affiliation
+1
#23
I always love the attacks on the Rae government.

So old Bob gets voted in, handed a deficit, right at the beginning of a recession and decides to spend and invest his way out of it.

So old Steve gets voted in, handed a surplus, just before going into recession and decides to spend and invest his way out of it.

First one bad......bad little socialist.

Second one good....good little con.

What's even better is that the very people who sat on the other side during the Rae government criticising him are the same ones in charge in Ottawa doing what he did.

Seriously, are cons really this vacuous?
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
+1
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

Primary or secondary?

They stopped getting paid?

The province shouldn't own airlines. I don't think they did anyways.

My bad, I didn't think of municipal pay cheques. Same thing.

What difference whether the highway is primary or secondary, someone's got to maintain it. Hwy 121 (for example) is now a City of Kawartha lakes road and was a primary. Most secondary highways are gone.

Contracted out - Walkerton was the result

Norontair
 
CDNBear
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

What difference whether the highway is primary or secondary, someone's got to maintain it. Hwy 121 (for example) is now a City of Kawartha lakes road and was a primary. Most secondary highways are gone.

And someone is still getting paid to look after them.

Quote:

Contracted out - Walkerton was the result

That's checks and balances, not cheques and balances.

Quote:

Norontair

Great, shouldn't exist. Besides, I prefer Bear Skin air.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#26
Regardless, employed or not, those people don't work for the Province any more - hence there was a lay-off of provincial employees.

BTW.... Bearskin flies over here a lot. Damn, I wish they'd go a whole DeHavilland fleet. That single-engine Pilatus is noisy as hell
 
CDNBear
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

Regardless, employed or not, those people don't work for the Province any more - hence there was a lay-off of provincial employees

Or they were transfered with the dept.

Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

BTW.... Bearskin flies over here a lot. Damn, I wish they'd go a whole DeHavilland fleet. That single-engine Pilatus is noisy as hell

LOL, have you ever flown on them? Interesting, very interesting...lol.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

Or they were transfered with the dept.

LOL, have you ever flown on them? Interesting, very interesting...lol.

Senior members, likely. Low on the totem - bye-bye
 
CDNBear
#29
Quote: Originally Posted by lone wolf View Post

Senior members, likely. Low on the totem - bye-bye

I'll concede to maybe.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
#30
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBear View Post

LOL, have you ever flown on them? Interesting, very interesting...lol.

Only on the Fairchild - to Thunder Bay in weather. Eight passenger pukefest....

Da-aa-mn there's a hell of a lot of Lake Superior....
 

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