Ontario Premier Mike Harris survived his appearance yesterday before the Walkerton inquiry. More than survived: He triumphed. Facing an orchestrated ambush by smirking union lawyers, hired activists and placard-carrying demonstrators, Mr. Harris rose so far above the low politically motivated smears of his prosecutors that many citizens of Ontario must now be wondering about the validity of the Harris caricature they have been fed for most of the past year.
The first anniversary of the Walkerton, Ont., water tragedy is approaching. Already the professional groundskeepers of public opinion are raking the town for the official laying of the blame ceremonies. They appear to have narrowed it down to two culprits, the Harris cutbacks and privatization. Despite overwhelming evidence that Walkerton is the product of gross inadequacies inherent in public sector ownership and major instances of individual public employee incompetence, opinion nevertheless appears to have gelled around the cheap political conclusions.
Three fatal errors by Ontario’s government led to the Walkerton water tragedy that has left at least five dead and more than 1,000 infected over the past week. The government failed to prevent the pollution of the water supply. It failed to prevent the distribution of polluted water. And it failed to recognize that the private sector can handle municipal water supply more competently and safely than the public sector.
Bill Maden figures he takes his dip in Halifax harbour at the only safe time of the year – the dead of winter. For a quarter-century, Mr. Maden, a personal investment advisor, has organized the Polar Bear Club’s New Year’s Day swim.
A Toronto-based environmental group, arguing that there’s no longer any economic benefit to logging in Vancouver island’s Carmanah Valley, is asking the British Columbia government to preserve the entire valley.