'We attack back'
Last week, the Lindsay office of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP and Ontario Labour Minister Laurie Scott was vandalized; windows smashed, the front customer service area ransacked.
While, at least at press time, it’s unknown who was responsible for the attack, there’s little mystery as to its motive.
On the side of the building, in black spray paint, were these words: “Attack workers. We attack back. $15.”
Just hours before, Scott, in her capacity as labour minister, announced a series of labour law rollbacks, the most prominent among them that, as promised, the Ford government would freeze Ontario’s minimum wage at $14 per hour, instead of increasing it to $15, as was the plan under the previous government.
It is horrible and unacceptable that Scott’s office was vandalized, and that should be made abundantly clear. There are ways to peacefully, and legally, protest.
However, the incident stands as a sharp symbol of the frustration many of Scott’s constituents are feeling, and brings to light with violent clarity the difficult and unenviable spot Scott is in. Scott cannot, without appearing hypocritical, purport to represent the interests of the people of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock while passing the policies of the Ford government. Many of those policies, and the labour changes announced last week are a prime example, are going to directly and negatively impact the very people she is supposed to represent in Queen’s Park.
Those changes follow the government’s cancellation of the basic income pilot project earlier this year, which affected thousands of people in Lindsay, the flagship community of Scott’s constituency.
As most of us know, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock is one of the poorest ridings in the province, and within it, Haliburton County one of the province’s poorest municipalities. The changes announced last week – frozen minimum wage, removal of guaranteed paid sick days, reduced protections for shift workers, etc. – are uniformly negative for workers, and in particular, low-wage workers. In Scott’s case, that means many of her constituents.
The Ford family – millionaires – are skilled at projecting themselves as working class folk. The Ford government’s constant, Orwellian “for the people” rhetoric is designed to re-iterate this image. However, “the people” Ford is looking out for are business owners and employers, not workers and employees. That should be abundantly clear by now to anyone who is paying attention.
Unfortunately, for Scott, that will likely mean increasingly widespread backlash against her by many of the people she is supposed to represent, as they watch their personal economic circumstances get worse and worse.