THE BLOG

While the House is Away, Liberals Play (Dirty)

03/14/2012 11:07 EDT | Updated 05/14/2012 05:12 EDT

This week at the Ontario Legislature is constituency week. That means that MPPs from all parties are taking a break from Queen's Park to spend some time in their constituency meeting with their constituents, stakeholders, and taking care of business in their ridings. It's also March Break, when some folks are lucky enough to get out of town, and others are distracted by having their kids around.

Imagine my surprise then, coming in to the hallowed Pink Palace on Monday morning, to hear that the Minister of Finance was making a major announcement about OLG: from the planning of a casino in Toronto, the expansion of online gambling, and expanding lotto sales into grocery and retail stores. Never mind that a casino is something Torontonians have soundly rejected, online gambling will make it easier for underage and problem gamblers to spend money, and heaven help those of us in the grocery store behind the person cashing out their 6/49 tickets. Never mind that in government-sponsored gambling the house always wins. Never mind any of that -- this was an example of politics over policy.

What do I mean by that? When the house is sitting there is ample opportunity for the other parties to respond when the government drops a bomb like this. Instead, the Liberals chose a Monday morning, with little lead time, so that MPPs from other parties would be as far away from Queen's Park as possible. They knew that this would be seen as an unpopular and unprincipled cash-grab by the government, and they wanted to make it as tough as possible to respond.

Then, on Tuesday, the Ministry of Transport announced they are raising a whole host of fees related to licensing. Granted, the increases are not huge, but they are increases -- and the government is choosing to drop these during constituency week with no notice to media, no notice to opposition parties and families are on March break. They claim this is the hike. Pfff. If you believe that, email me about the swampland I have for sale in Florida. It will be their only fee hike until they announce the next one.

The fact is that the Liberals are playing politics again. They are dropping bombs while the opposition is in their constituencies, and while families are enjoying March break. This is like the fine print at the bottom of the contract. The Liberals are saying, "Don't look behind the curtain, don't read the fine print, because everything is fine and dandy."

Actually folks, the fine print is important. It's sad that the Liberals think they can pull a fast one on you.