By Austin Stanton, photo by Julien Gignac
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election as president of the United States, the outrage among Carleton students was palpable. When information emerged in the auditor general’s report that there was blatant corruption in the Ontario Liberal government, the reaction was far more muted, exposing a classic Canadian flaw.
The result of the presidential election is not what I, or any intelligent individual wanted. Trump should not be the president-elect of the US. But he isn’t president yet. Like him or not, the chance remains that his impact on the world and by extension Canada will be positive. Many—myself included—believe those chances are slim, but the reaction to Trump’s election was that the world is over, and apocalypse is certain.
So why, when news broke that Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government is rewarding companies previously fired for safety violations with new contracts, was the response from Carleton students much less frenzied?
There were no plans made for anti-Liberal protests. My social media news feeds did not become dominated by memes, articles, and information decrying the Liberals’ $20 million increase in advertising spending, while simultaneously limiting Auditor General Bonnie Lysk’s office’s oversight on the content of government commercials.
In a nutshell, there was outcry and agitation over something in U.S. politics that hasn’t happened yet—Trump living in the White House. But in Canada, when information was released that our government has been misappropriating funds and spending $8 billion over the last 14 years on digitizing patient records at hospitals, but failing to complete the task effectively, many seemed not to care.
The laundry list of issues outlined in Lysk’s report also include shocking revelations about the Liberals’ much-lauded cap-and-trade system, aimed at lower emissions and making it possible for Ontario to meet its climate goals. Lysk’s report claims that cap-and-trade will not make as significant a dent in emissions as the Liberals claim, and will work more effectively for Ontario’s partner in the agreement, California. These are issues that were at the forefront of the American election: favouritism of certain businesses, corruption of public funds, and the environment.
Many Canadians closely followed the presidential election, as they should have. The influence America holds over Canadian international political policy is significant, and the U.S. is our number one economic partner. But I think the lack of outcry over Lysk’s report highlights is an issue truly Canadian in nature. Canadians care more about American politics than our own. For the last month, news coverage and social media have been dominated by what Trump is doing and what he’s saying he’s going to do.
So why were people not as outraged that corruption in our own government is running rampant? The answer is something I can’t speak to, but realizing the problem exists is the first step to the solution. Ontarians would be better served to take a little more interest in what’s happening at home, rather than spending so much time getting worked up over what’s to come down south.
With someone as volatile as Trump emerging onto the international political scene, wouldn’t Ontario be best served to have as competent of a government as possible to guide it through the turbulent times many believe are to come?
As university students it is our responsibility to step up and start following and reacting to Ontario politics with the same passion that is directed towards Trump. Wynne’s choices impact our lives directly—let’s start holding her accountable for them.