By Warren “Smokey” Thomas, Toronto Sun (July 3, 2016) – The “leave” campaign in the U.K. tapped into a sentiment with voters that the “little guy” is being left out, that the European Union was a huge let-down, and everyone’s public services are under threat.
Voters such as the shopkeeper, nurse, teacher, farmer and the rest of the working class and disappearing middle class stuck it to the political and financial elites with a justified sense of anger and frustration.
They took a stand to protect British health care, their schools, job security, retirement security, and the “can-do” attitude they had always known to make their local community the best it can be.
It explains why a majority of British voters coalesced around the easy-to-understand message of “taking back control” of their country.
They snubbed the “we know better than you” gang of elitist minds that synched together — bankers, economists, European institutions, EU staff, corporate executives, lobbyists, and politicians who for years coalesced around the idea that globalization benefits all.
The leave campaign blasted the British government for kneeling to foreign buyers for years to sell-off electricity, water, gas, and nuclear facilities, patents and more — a trend dubbed the “great British sell-off.”
It also reminded voters that transnational corporate interests wielded massive influence on policy-makers shaping the EU’s financial and economic outcomes.
In the first six months of 2015, 75% of the 4,300 meetings with EU officials were with corporate lobbyists, according to Transparency International, a non-governmental organization. (The EU lobbyist registry is volunteer-based and most lobbying would go unreported.)
The EU was failing many — certainly “Little England”, but also unemployed youth across European countries with bleak futures (whose protests against the elites will now be more deeply understood).
There is a parallel here in Canada, and in particular in Ontario where crony capitalism and political elitism is alive and well at the expense of the “little guy.”
Undue influence by corporate insiders has infiltrated the halls of power in Ottawa, with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and at Queen’s Park with the sell-off of Hydro One.
The “little guy” has rejected the Hydro One deal scheme, yet Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has carried on, behind closed doors, with unelected advisors, to write the deal, offering little transparency to the public.
The Ontario government has been blasted repeatedly for cozying up to corporate elites, and selling off assets to insiders, only to then have taxpayers pay to use what is already theirs.
The opposition parties in Ontario are tapping into the voters’ frustration.
There is growing anger that the Liberals’ Big Red Machine is moving forward with the same mindset as in Britain, to sell off Ontario’s economy and public services, by dabbling in privatized hydro, health care services, lab tests, blood services, environmental enforcement, and more.
And there is growing frustration that taxpayer funds are going to corporate handouts, particularly after the provincial auditor general criticized the government for handing out over $1 billion to businesses since 2004, without proof this benefited taxpayers.
It’s time to rally around the message that we will “take back control” in Ontario, reclaim ownership of our assets, end corporate handouts, and declare “We Own It” before it’s too late.