The strategy of the Ontario Liberal Party in this upcoming election is clear: Since the Wynne Liberal’s cannot make a claim to competence, they will employ the strategy Liberals so often claim to detest, the politics of division through class and identity warfare.
There are currently two different narratives surrounding the minimum wage policy in Ontario. One of these is hailed to us directly from the war-room of the Ontario Liberal Party. It goes like this.
Not so long ago in a galaxy not so far away existed the country Canada. This was an evil place where greedy businesses were free to roam the land and fill their pockets with spoils stolen directly from the working class. The evil capitalists who run these businesses care not for the citizenry, and if left unchecked, they would continue to exploit the poor until they had no food to eat and no shelter to brave the bitter climate of the North.
But fear not. Premier Kathleen Wynne has descended from her throne atop Mt. Virtue, and she alone will save the people and keep these evil capitalist bullies in check. Her weapon of choice? The $15 dollar minimum wage policy. The fact that businesses responded to this policy by cutting hours and benefits, and by raising prices demonstrates that they are indeed greedy bullies and do not care about anyone except themselves.
That is the fable told by the Ontario Liberal Party. Here is what is really going on.
The way in which businesses have responded to the Ontario Liberal’s minimum wage policy was predictable. As Marni Soupcoff wrote in her National Post column when responding to the shocker that daycare costs were rising this past Friday, “The phrase on the tip of the tongue of everyone with even a rudimentary understanding of economics was: no kidding!” Arbitrarily raising the operating cost for businesses is going to be met by businesses finding ways to offset these costs through mechanisms such as reducing hours, cutting benefits, and increasing their selling prices. This is common sense. And the Ontario Liberals know it.
In 2014 the Ontario Liberal government put together an advisory panel to commission a study on the impacts of increasing the minimum wage in Ontario. The study found that the link between poverty and minimum wage was weak.
Additionally, the study highlighted the possibility of a reduction in work hours and negative impacts on youth employment. Ontario’s former Finance Minister Greg Sorbara also thinks this is a bad idea. During a TVO interview when asked about the impacts of a 32% increase by January 2019 to the minimum wage, the former Finance Minister said, “I think it is going to have a very negative impact on the economy”, he continues, “Government shouldn’t put dealing with poverty on the backs of businesses”.
So why are they doing it? The answer is simple.
This is all part of the Liberals 2018 election strategy. When you are plagued by scandals and cannot run a campaign based on your party’s competence, exploiting divisions in society is a good substitute.
The ongoing media campaign by the Premier to pit the public against business owners is telling of her party’s antics for the upcoming election. This isn’t about helping the working poor. It is about exploiting class divisions through wage warfare to boost her party chances at the ballot box.
Class warfare isn’t the only strategy; identity and gender politics is also on the table. Take for example Wynne’s recent cabinet shuffle, where instead of highlighting the qualified people she is adding to cabinet, she used this opportunity to say, “And you know, I think it’s important for me to walk the talk. I’ve been an advocate for women’s rights & women on boards. And today, I’m doing my part to have more women in executive roles by bringing more women into the Ontario cabinet”.
Framing the discussion around women’s rights is another example of how the Ontario Liberals will attempt to distract voters from their incompetence using social issues.
The problem is that while these tactics are distasteful, they can be effective. Wynne party’s election strategy is clear: exploit votes by igniting issues of class and identity warfare.
Don’t buy into their divisive tactics. These Hail Mary political maneuvers are not what is best for Ontarians; they are ill-advised, desperate attempts to hold onto power.
The people of Ontario ought to remember the warning passed down to us by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato: anyone who desperately seeks to rule shouldn’t be trusted.