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TorontoWith just a few days left before a new Tory leader is elected and Mike Harris waltzes out of the Premiers office, there are many people in Ontario who are breathing a sigh of relief. They are glad to see the back of him and his populist nastiness that has gutted public services, hurt the sick and vulnerable and diminished our once great province. Good bye Mike, and good riddance, says Sid Ryan, the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Ryan points out that after Walkerton, Ipperwash and September 11, Ontarians recognize the important role government plays in our civil society and how crucial quality public services are to ensuring our safety and security.

The Harris legacy, says Ryan is that many hurtful, bad things happened on his watch. Standards protecting clean water and workers rights were eliminated. Hospitals were closed, leaving the sick and vulnerable on long waiting lists. The poor were demonized and many left homeless. And the right of every child to a quality education has been compromised.

Regardless of how the Tories spin out the policies of Common Sense, Ontarians now know that less government really means less protection for citizens, less public services and ultimately less accountability in how the remaining public services are delivered.

Ryan will join hundreds of CUPE members and other allies in bidding goodbye to the mean-spirited, confrontational Harris era at a Peoples Rally on Saturday, March 23 at Simcoe Park (Simcoe and Front Streets, outside the Tory leadership convention). The rally marks the beginning of a better future for Ontario, one without Harris and eventually without the Tories.

Harris is going out exactly how he came in with confrontation. Today, just like six years ago at the beginning of the Harris era, there are 45,000 provincial government workers on strike in this province. Its a fitting bookend to the years of shameful discord and polarization that incredulously Harris is proud of.

Even the candidates jockeying for the leaders job are attempting to distance themselves from his hard-nosed policies. Unfortunately for them, they are tarred with the same brush. They have all been cabinet ministers in Harris government and the people of Ontario will not forget that at the ballot box next election, says Ryan.

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For more information please contact:
Sid Ryan, President CUPE Ontario
(416) 209-0066
Stella Yeadon CUPE Communications
(416) 578-8774