I believe in democracy: elected officials -- whether in government or representative organizations -- should and must be the voice of their people.
I also believe that elected officials should respect their electorate. Ordinary people who vote them into power can just as quickly strip them of it. A famous quote states: "People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people."
At some point in the next three weeks, doctors across Ontario will vote on the most controversial, contentious Physician Services Agreement (PSA) in recent history.
After a bitter two-year impasse in negotiations, the contract should have been greeted with open arms. Instead, it was met with open alarm.
Reports of unsettling circumstances shadow negotiations. Generally a mild-mannered profession, whistle-blowing doctors now denounce the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). Observers speculate on potential mutiny.
Physicians face an ultimatum. This is not good-faith negotiation.
All that aside, though, physicians find this six-page contract tight on deadlines, severe in consequences and unnervingly light on details. It seems odd that even IKEA instructions are longer and more detailed than a contract for a $12-billion portfolio.
Many are baffled by the OMA's aggressive and single-minded endorsement of a contract that OMA board members admit has "warts and all." Many worry about the long-term fallout of the vague terms. Many are angry that the OMA has stonewalled discussions, delving into the downsides of the new deal.
Many believe the contract reflects a sham negotiation: OMA infographics imply: "a No-Vote will mean more unilateral actions." In most labour talks, rejection of a first offer prompts the bargaining of a second. Instead, physicians face an ultimatum. This is not good-faith negotiation.
With this in mind, physicians are told to trust the government again. A government famous for slipping through loopholes and breaking promises. The Liberals have imposed unilateral actions twice before. They have set a new precedent for dismantling physician services.
It's no surprise that in the dog days of summer, a public rally of 300 physicians and patients descended on Ministry of Health and OMA offices to express dismay with the new contract.
It's no surprise that nearly 3,000 physicians --- family doctors and specialists alike -- signed a petition to stall the vote. They want the OMA to call a General Member's Meeting to discuss the pros and cons of the tentative contract without rhetoric or propaganda. After some critical thinking and thoughtful debate, they want an informed vote. A vote that is binding on all levels of the OMA hierarchy.
To me, this petition shows the power ordinary people wield over elected officials. Will this herald an evolution in the OMA? I hope so. For now at least it has stopped the vote.
For those watching the conflict unfold: save your sympathy.
Instead, get mad.
Your elected government, the Ontario Liberals, made a mockery of our health-care system. They outsource services to the U.S. -- services that now cost more than they would if provided here. They waste much-needed health-care dollars on bureaucracy and failed ventures. They ignore ordinary people as they die on ballooning wait lists. They offer Band-Aid solutions to complex problems, igniting a massive fight among doctors. This is not acceptable.
Get mad. If doctors cannot afford to maintain or upgrade their equipment, you are the one who loses. If doctors cannot afford to keep their clinics open, you are the one who loses. If doctors leave, you are the one who loses.
So I vote No.
Your turn: make this government fear the vote and the voice of the ordinary person.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
MORE ON HUFFPOST:
Ontario's publicly funded air ambulance service has been under fire for almost two years over sky-high salaries, financial irregularities and corruption allegations. A legislative committee has been probing the service's complex structures and pay scales in detail, and opposition parties have been alleging wrongdoing with nearly every revelation. The auditor general has criticized the governing Liberals for failing to oversee Ornge, despite giving it $730 million over five years and allowing it to borrow another $300 million. The Liberals insist Ornge went rogue with a web of for-profit companies and questionable business deals, as well as exorbitant salaries and lavish expenses.
Scandal has swirled around the government's decision to cancel the construction of two Toronto-area gas plants ahead of the 2011 election, in which the government then led by Dalton McGuinty was reduced to minority status. The cancellation costs have now been pegged at $1.1 billion, but opposition parties have accused the Liberals of actively trying to cover up that figure. Ontario's privacy commissioner has concluded that staff working for McGuinty and a former energy minister broke the law by deleting emails pertaining to the project. Ontario Provincial Police are also investigating the document deletions, seizing government computers at both Queen's Park and beyond.
The provincial agency was given a $1-billion budget to develop electronic health records, but wound up building themselves a bad reputation. A lot of the eHealth money went for untendered contracts given to highly paid consultants who then billed taxpayers for additional expenses in a scandal that cost former health minister David Caplan his job. In 2009, the auditor general said the agency had very little progress to show for its efforts, and opposition parties have alleged further financial mismanagement since then.
The government has taken heat for not immediately acting when it learned a $1.4-billion infrastructure project didn't live up to safety standards. The Liberals were told that questionable materials were being used on the support beams on Windsor's Herb Gray Parkway in December 2012, but didn't halt the project until July. More than 500 support beams are being replaced by the project overseer at no cost to the tax payers, but the NDP has accused the Wynne government of trying to cover up the affair and only backing down when threatened with media exposure.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has hailed the 2015 games as a cause for celebration, but opposition parties call it just another scandal. The $1.4-billion budget for the games does not include some key expenses, like the $700 million athletes' village. The government has also come under fire for $7 million worth of bonuses paid out to 64 executives.
Follow Nadia Alam on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DocSchmadia