Bizarre news release helps McGuinty, discredits pro-review forces
I have not weighed in publicly on the John Tory leadership review (for the record, I helped out on the campaign and am against review), but this release, issued by the “Grassroots PC” group headed by former party president Rueben Devlin and former MPP Bart Maves, needs to be cited for its clumsiness, in both ideation and execution.
The release attacks Tory’s recent speech to the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario. Below are some excerpts, followed by the response of Tory supporter John Ratchford:
Grassroots PC: [Tory] called for new initiatives to attract and retain nurses – a great idea. The slightly embarrassing fact, though, is that the Liberal government has already implemented each one of the great new ideas he suggested.
Grassroots PC: Great New Idea #1: “Implementing the creation of 70 per cent full-time employment for nurses”
Slightly Embarrassing Fact #1: Every hospital in Ontario is already required to have 70 per cent fulltime employed nurses…it’s government policy.
Ratchford: Fact: Ontario’s nurses say the Liberals haven’t kept their promise. Doris Grinspun, Executive Director of the RNAO, said: “Targeted funding is crucial if the government is going to achieve its goals of increasing Ontario’s nursing workforce by 9,000 and having 70 percent of nurses working full-time.” (RNAO press release, January 22, 2008)
Grassroots PC: Great New Idea #3: “Establishing nurse-led clinics that would allow nurses to take a lead role in areas such as chronic disease management.”
Slightly Embarrassing Fact #3: On November 30, 2005 the Liberal government announced $15 million for the creation of 69 new diabetes education and care teams.
Ratchford: The error-ridden news release also declares that the Liberals have kept their promise and created nurse-led clinics, pointing to an extremely small $15 million program as proof of the accomplishment.
Fact: Here’s what the RNAO said in their January 22 news release: “RNAO says the need to immediately improve the public’s access to primary health is why the association wants to see 12 of the 25 nurse-led clinics, promised during the election campaign, up and running in 2008.”
Well, to point out the obvious, the fact that something is “government policy,” doesn’t mean it’s actually happening. For example, it’s “government policy” that class sizes from grades JK to 3 are capped at 20. But the McGuinty Fiberals have failed to achieve that, despite spending a couple billion and having four years to do it.
And giving the Liberals credit by citing a two-year-old funding announcement that equates to maybe 20% of the full clinic idea Tory proposes? Talk about apples and oranges. Or more like the way teachers are being encouraged to mark these days: no marks off for incomplete or late assignments.
I respect the right of the dump Tory crowd to get their messages out. But I fail to see the “strategery” in putting out a release that credits McGuinty with things he hasn’t achieved. It doesn’t advance their cause; it just hurts our caucus and whoever might succeed Tory, should these guys achieve their goal at the review in London.
In addition to serving as unpaid water-carriers for McGuinty, “Grassroots PC” have ceded the high ground they tried to claim with Devlin’s introductory comment on their website: “while we respect John Tory and appreciate his service to the party, he is not the leader our party and Ontario need to succeed in the future.” Issuing a release that could have come from the Liberal war room falls rather short of showing respect for Tory.
I grant that opposing the leader while supporting the party can be a tough wire to walk. But these guys have deliberately dived off that wire headfirst – without a net.
Endnote: Hugh MacIntyre has a different view.