Congratulations Dr. Michael Harris! You deserve all the accolades coming your way. In fact, they are long overdue. And hopefully, so it will be, that on Friday, June 11th, 2010 at 11am, former Ontario Premier Harris will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Nipissing.
Ontario Union of Natives Complain
Yet, the Union of Ontario Natives have denounced the honour because of “Mr. Harris’s treatment of natives in Ontario, pointing to the death of protester Dudley George, the removal of land-tax provisions and cutbacks to social programs.”
Why the bias and double standard?
The Bob Rae Gov’t Compared to Harris Gov’t
For example, former NDP Premier Bob Rae has been the recipient of four honorary doctorates. Yet, I haven’t read any Native complaints about how divisive his Rae Day policies were from 1990 until 1995, or the soaring jobless rate during his mandate. I mean, the Rae government nearly bankrupted Ontario and bequeathed the Harris government with a $12 billion deficit — a debt that we all had to feel in order for it to be paid off over one electoral term.
Yes, the cuts to social assistance in the summer of 1995 were tough but, with the implementation of the “no financial penalty for working part-time policy,” thousands of people were able to get off welfare and into jobs. And, remember, the current McGuinty government has done nothing to roll back those Harris policies. Yet, I hear few complaints about that.
The McGuinty Gov’t Compared to Harris Gov’t
Which brings us to the present. What about our current Ontario Premier, Liberal Dalton McGuinty? As I mentioned above, he hasn’t changed any of the social assistance policies since his government came to power seven years ago. And, he too has received an honorary doctorate, most recently from the University of Ottawa.
Yet, I haven’t heard the Union of Ontario Natives complain about how divisive and mean Mr. McGuinty’s social policies are? Moreover, McGuinty government policies have actually resulted in Ontario becoming a have-not province.
Then, of course there have been the Six Nations standoffs in Caledonia. While it is true that no one has been killed during those protests, it is only because of the spectre of Ipperwash hanging over Premier McGuinty and the OPP leadership that such one-sided lawlessness has been tolerated.
Let’s Not Revise History
For some strange, unknown reason, Mike Harris has always been a lightning rod for controversy — blamed for events that were far beyond his control. Ipperwash and Walkerton are just two such examples.
For example, the Ipperwash violence should never have happened. Cooler heads should have prevailed. And, lest anyone misunderstand my motivation, I don’t wish the kind of violent death Dudley George experienced, on anyone. But, it was not Premier Harris who caused the violence or the death.
It is, unfortunately, similar to what happened in Walkerton with the tainted water crisis. While it may not be politically correct for me to suggest that the two men who admitted to lying and falsifying water reports during the Walkerton Inquiry should be the ones blamed for the deaths and injuries that occurred, that is not what happened. Rather, people blamed Premier Harris for that crisis.
In any event, lightning rod or not, Premier Harris did a lot of good for Ontario and definitely deserves the honorary doctorate he will receive on June the 11th, 2010.