Across the country Canadians are enjoying the last long weekend of the year to mark Labour Day, the day we celebrate the worker. Some people should be celebrating the workers more than most.
No, I’m not talking about fat cat CEOs getting rich on the back of other people’s labour, that is what the union bosses will yell about in speeches to parades today.
I’m talking about the consultant class that gets rich in Ottawa and in provincial capitals across the country by doing who knows what for huge sums of money.
People like David Herle.
Herle is on my mind lately because of a story Canadian Press broke last week which claimed to show that while Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was wildly unpopular, all of her policies were highly popular.
Wynne even alluded to the findings of the polls while speaking at an event last week. She told the audience that her family loves her and if Ontarians didn’t then at least voters saw the wisdom in her attempt to solve every problem with a new government program.
Here’s the thing, I’m not sure I buy those polls.
Admittedly I have not seen the data tables, combed through the order and phrasing of the questions to see if they pass the smell test but there is still a reason to be suspicious.
The polls in question were conducted by The Gandalf Group and organization headed up by David Herle, Kathleen Wynne’s campaign manager and a man who has a track record of getting lucrative government contracts.
For Herle, having Wynne and the Liberals lose the next election is bad for business.
Well let’s say Herle is one of those guys I mentioned earlier that knows how to extract large sums of money from the public purse.
As I reported last year, Herle was the recipient of two contracts from the Premier’s office worth almost $900,000 for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. What did he do for that nearly $900,000 sum paid out directly from the Premier’s Office?
All they would tell me at the time was that it was “commissioned research services.”
My reporting followed a story months earlier from The Globe and Mail showing that $2.1 million in government contracts went to Liberal friendly firms at Queen’s Park and right at the top of the list was David Herle’s Gandalf Group.
“Among the contracts were $1.1-million for a firm run by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s top strategist and pollster, $353,034 for the party’s chief advertising company and $383,232 for a data-mining outfit that has worked on the Liberals’ voter information database.”
And finally, to add insult to injury, when I revealed via documents obtained through Freedom of Information that Herle was billing Ontario Power Generation $420 an hour to consult with them, even the Toronto Star had to write about it, calling Herle the $3 million dollar man.
That’s right, his contracts from the Ontario Liberal government over the past few years have totalled $2.7 million and that is before we add in the ongoing polling to tell the premier how great she is.
So forgive me if I take these polls with $3 million worth of salt.
Here’s what everyone in Ontario should take away from this on Labour Day. The man that will be tasked with selling you on Wynne’s plan for fair hydro, fair rent control, fair wages and fair everything else, gets plum contracts worth millions and bills out at about 17 times the hourly rate compared to the average Canadian that works full time.
When it comes time to vote next June, we don’t just need to get rid of Kathleen Wynne, we need to get rid of David Herle and people like him. Their time feeding off the public needs to come to an end.