DAVE AGAR

March 6th Commentary

Posted By: Dave Agar · 3/6/2014 7:09:00 AM

Accountability

It's difficult not to be cynical about this but with an Ontario election widely expected in the spring, the Wynne Government will announce plans this morning aimed at showing voters the Premier is committed to transparency and accountability in government in how taxpayers money is spent.

Much of this would require legislative changes and the way things normally crawl through Queen's Park, the bills could easily die on the order paper.

It does however give Wynne the ability to stump for votes by saying if she is re-elected, especially with a majority, this is what will get done in a new legislative session.

Here are the rumblings about what is to be promised:

The government would take political control over the salaries paid to the top executives of the hospitals, Hydro One, OLG, Universities, the LCBO.

There will be limits imposed on how much those execs will get paid but it will be done sector-by-sector...not the flat cap the NDP is demanding.

We're also hearing that the Ontario Integrity Commissioner will get the power to review the expenses of all 1-hundred-97 government agencies, boards and commissions.

The Ombudsman would apparently get the power to investigate complaints against municipalities, universities and school boards...but not the health sector.

All MPP's would have to post their expenses online the same way the Premier and her cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats do now and those expenses would have to be updated regularly.

Of course these are all things that should have been done a long time ago and we've seen baby steps in the right direction but if this plan ever gets going, it could be big.

But with an election seemingly so close...it could all be a bunch of bluster.

School board

Not since amalgamation of Metropolitan Toronto has the Toronto public school board balanced its budget...until now and it seems to be a strategic move....the feeling that they're going to get shafted by the Ontario Government and Queen's Park will try to lay the blame back at the feet of the trustees.

By unanimous vote, the board has approved a 3-billion dollar operating budget including the approval of a way to eliminate a 12.4-million dollar shortfall through attrition and efficiencies that have no direct affect on your kids learning environment.

Overall they'll hire about 2-hundred elementary teachers, 3-hundred-48 Early Childhood Educators, and 3-hundred-74 lunchroom supervisors but because of declining enrolment in high schools 1-hundred-65 secondary school teaching jobs will be eliminated.

Should Queen's Park squeeze its funds to the board, trustee Sheila Carey Meagher says the board would have to find additional cuts to make.

Olivia Chow

Nothing confirmed but there are reports that NDP member of Parliament Olivia Chow will officially enter the race to be Toronto's next mayor the week of March 17th.

The Star says veteran campaign strategist John Laschinger will run the Chow team. Laschinger's most recent success was Mayor David Miller's defeat of John Tory and former Mayor Barbara Hall in 2-thousand-3.

Rob Ford

In case you missed it, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair has stepped away from the investigation of Mayor Rob Ford.

His investigative team headed up by Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux will continue to probe with any criminal charges are warranted but the overnight of that probe will come from the OPP, specifically the Inspector who handled the infamous Russell Williams murder cases in Eastern Ontario.

Ukraine

A significant development in the crisis in Ukraine.

Just over an hour ago the Parliament of Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation and break away from Ukraine.

The MP's will put the issue to a vote of the people..the referendum to be held 10 days from now.

Meanwhile, the leaders of the European Union are meeting right now trying to sort out what kind of penalty Russia should pay for invading Crimea while in Paris, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart made enough headway on diplomatic negotiations to schedule another round.

Polar bear

The baby polar bear at the Toronto Zoo finally has a name...just in time for all the kids who will be lined up while on March break.

The name the cub contest has settled on "Humphrey" as the most popular name. He's also been given an Inuit name Piujuq. So it's Humphrey Piujuq.

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