Enter Stage Right's First Annual Conservative of the Year Award goes to Ontario Premier Michael Harris!

web posted December 1996

It wasn't altogether to difficult to name ESR's First Annual Conservative of the Year. The criteria was simple. The candidate had to have defended the ethos of smaller or no government, legitimate conservative principles and made a real contribution to our movement.

After two decades of tax and spend governments, the Harris government is to be commended for not being intimidated by the shrill rhetoric of special interest groups seeking to defend their place at the public trough.
- Paul Pagnuelo, Ontario Taxpayers Federation (May 31, 1996)

While there were a number of good people who could have won this award, ESR had to go no further than our backyard to pick this year's winner.

So why Harris? In the last year, his government has faced difficult challenges. He has been vociferously opposed by labour unions who have tried to knock him from his course by attempting to shut down cities to convince the public that his cost-cutting agenda is straight from the devil himself. He enacted the first real tax cut this province has seen in years. His government is moving to privatize government corporations and service. The Harris government is cutting spending after years of massive over-spending. The former N.D.P. government's pro-union labour laws are being dismantled.

The Ontario Progressive Conservative government has restored integrity to the political system in Ontario. They promised to deliver and they have delivered on their promises.
- Mike Wallace, Burlington alderman

The Harris government has also done much to reduce the size of government. He recently announced a plan which will see provincial riding boundaries aligned with their federal counterparts before the next election. This will reduce the number of M.P.P.s from 130 to 103. To the end of a smaller government, the provincial government has also:

  • scrapped MPPs' gold-plated pensions and tax-free allowances and reduced their own pay by five percent.

  • appointed the smallest Cabinet this province had seen in 30 years.

  • reduced internal government administrative costs by $200 million so far.

  • saved $80 million to date by requiring government agencies, boards and commissions to operate more efficiently.

  • imposed strict limits on government advertising and publications.

There is a slight sour note to the selection of Michael Harris. His government enacted a bill which one section allows the government to tell new doctors where to work. The reasoning was to give under-serviced communities access to doctors, but it is simply an anti-free market attempt to pander to smaller communities. The profession of medicine is regulated enough without a well-meaning but immoral imposition on the freedoms of an entire professional class.

Despite that, Harris' actions have been overwhelmingly pro-free market and pro-freedom. Harris is showing people that responsible government is both effective when smaller and less intrusive.

Congratulations to Michael Harris and may he continue on the course he has navigated so effectively.

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