The Corner

Performance-Related Bonus

Once the state swells to a certain size, reversing even minor excesses is exhausting, and a long shot. Here’s a small example from my home town.

The Toronto District School Board relies for its maintenance of its facilities on something called the Maintenance and Construction Skilled Trades Council, a union that finds helping “the children” so rewarding that it works exclusively for the school board.

They’re not exactly a bargain: For installing one electrical outlet, they charge $3,000. A new sign on the school lawn? $19,000.

The local media noticed this, and began investigating. Undercover reporters tracked “workers” clocking in at schools, and then bunking off for the day to drink at the local bar, chow down on maple creme donuts at Tim Horton’s, or make out in cars.

These routine abuses weren’t exposed by some easily demonized right-wing fringe figure, but by the Toronto Star, which is not only Canada’s biggest-selling newspaper but impeccably lefty.

In the glare of the publicity, the school board (which had initially demanded an administration fee of $3.6 million merely for releasing public documents relating to the union contract) felt obliged to start burbling about maybe contracting out some services in the interests of “better value for taxpayers”.

And yet, after all this, the Education Minister went ahead and renewed the union’s contract anyway, in the interests of “stability.”

And so taxpayers will enjoy the stability of $3,000 electrical outlets for a few more years at least.

My favorite line in the story is:

The Star was unable to reach trades council head Jimmy Hazel.

Perhaps because he’s at his vacation paradise.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.


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