Politics, real politics, is painfully predictable.
By real politics, I mean at a level above municipal. Municipal level politics is too real to be called politics, really. Those elected ply their trade right in the towns in which they are elected. Their meetings are here. We see the results of their decisions immediately and regularly.
Politics at the provincial level would be a very different game if that type of connection and immediacy were equally true.
At the provincial and federal level, traits such as lip service, pork barrel policies and parochial decision-making are all too common.
Another incredibly annoying trait is the level and regularity of condescension with which some politicians address their constituents.
Case in point, one Ontario Minister of Health Deb Matthews.
Ms. Matthews managed to pull off an impressive feat Monday when announcing a $26 million spend to launch the planning process for a new SOUTH Niagara hospital in Niagara Falls.
Is there a need for a new southern-tier hospital? Yes. After that everything else about the government’s move, announced about a month before a byelection will be conducted in Niagara Falls’s riding to fill the seat vacated by Kim Craitor, is utter hogwash.
Matthews impressive feat? Managing to say her announcement was not an attempt by a shattered Liberal Party to buy the riding…all the while keeping a straight face was most impressive.
I guess that is to be expected coming from the same political party that blew anywhere between $635 million (Liberal numbers) and $810 million (auditor general numbers) in cancelling a gas plant in Oakville to buy that riding just before the last election.
You have to give them this: they’re consistent.
This announcement, or at least the speed of it, may be a surprise to some, but to those connected to health care and who follow the undercurrent of planning in that sector, one could see that freight training coming down the tracks month ago.
As noted on this page last week, the problem with this picture is not the fact another new hospital is needed and is proceeding in Niagara, but the fact West Lincoln Memorial Hospital’s rebuild has been sitting on a shelf collecting dust for more a decade.
It is fully realized the management team with Hamilton Health Sciences, which merged boards with WLMH and formally took over management of the Grimsby facility late last year, has an excellent plan to integrate WLMH into its stable of healthcare facilities and has been working proper channels to further the cause of the rebuild.
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All well and good, but enough is enough.
If Matthews had at least been honest and simply said, “Yes, we are doling out this initial $26 million because we really need this riding,” I would feel much better.
But politics does not work like that. Matthews is given her script and she follows it to the letter. Sad but true.
And make no mistake, all political parties do it. Mike Harris’s people did it before Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals steamrolled their way to power at Queen’s Park and we see plenty of examples where federal MPs disagree with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but in the end they do as he says.
With Monday’s announcement, you don’t have to look any further than the location to know the whole thing wreaks.
Hmmm, let me see, the first thing I think of when I think of Niagara Falls is “south” Niagara. Ya, right.
Even if this new hospital is to proceed, would it not make sense to put it in Welland, a geographically south, central location to Niagara?
Of course not. This is the same government that approved the new Fourth Avenue hospital location as central. Ironically, that silly decision is one of the things for which I remember MPP Craitor. I had several conversations with him over the years about the report penned choosing that location as the preferred site, a decision which made little sense to many. Even Craitor, a sitting MPP, said he could not get a look at the report.
Anyone looking at a map would put Niagara Falls to the extreme east and even north if you really had to divide it out: definitely not central or south, that is unless you are in the market to buy a provincial riding then you can rewrite the GPS coordinates on just about any place to suit your warped needs.
By all means Liberals, buy and build in Niagara Falls, but get off your collective butts and build the hospital in Grimsby which should have been erected years ago.