But Honestly, Are We Really Doug Ford’s “Friends?” Is He Really Ushering In “Ontario’s First-Ever Government for the People?”
A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted June 29th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
“My friends …. we are going to turn this province around so that our children and their children will feel proud to call Ontario their home.”
That was the vow Doug Ford – sworn in this Friday, June 29th as Ontario’s 26tth Premier – made before cheering crowds of supporters on the night of June 7th, after just enough voters across the province gave him the number of seats his Ontario PC Party needs to rule the next four years as a majority government.
An Orwellian chill shot up my spine when I heard Ford make that election night vow. And not just because he led in with the words “my friends,”, although his frequent use of those words that night, and during the weeks of his campaign for the province’s top job, didn’t help.
There is something about politicians who repeatedly use “my friends” in addresses to crowds that makes me cringe – like someone I’m not sure about placing a sweaty hand on my shoulder.
I never heard Bobby Kennedy or Bernie Sanders or, for that matter, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, any time during her campaign, using those presumptuous words. They respectfully left it to we, the people, to decide whether we were going to be friends or not.
Having said that, I am going to keep quoting Doug Ford’s election-night vow ‘to turn Ontario around and make it a place our children and their children will feel proud to call home’ every time he and his majority government move in any significant way to cut vital services like public health care or education or transit, or cut programs or resources for protecting the environment or for giving working people across the province a fair shake.
And I know that I am going to be quoting that line often in the weeks and months to come because I know, and you must surely know too, that there is absolutely no way Ford and his government can make the billions of dollars in tax cuts in this province without making big cuts to services or seeing the province go even further into debt – or both!
You don’t have to be an accountant or an economist to know that you can’t make such huge tax cuts without bankrupting the province unless you cut, gut or sell off services too.
That was the lesson we should have learned two decades ago when a guy who really was one of Doug Ford’s friend, his old Tory buddy Mike Harris, formed a government in this province and ushered in his so-called “common sense revolution.”
There were large groups of people, including seniors and fairly well paid professional groups like teachers, who voted for Harris because they wanted to get all the tax cuts he was promising and because they made the mistake of assuming that any service cuts would never affect them. He’d only go after people who sat at home collecting welfare money to buy cigarettes and beer, wouldn’t he?
There is only so much money you can save going after “welfare bums” though. The people struggling to get by on welfare could have told us that.
So before we knew it, we learned that the only thing common about Mike Harris’s revolution was that pretty well all of us, except for a handful of people wealthy enough to pay for their own services, were getting screwed.
My daughter, who was just starting grade school in Ontario at the time, saw her classes go from 22 or 24 students to more than 30 and we were having pizza and bake sales almost every week to pay for gym equipment and books for the school library. Seniors were being released from hospital earlier and earlier, only to learn that the waiting lists for getting them care in their homes were getting longer and longer.
Before half of Harris’s first term was over, there was ever group from teachers, to health care workers to Ministry of Environment employees marching in the streets, wishing they could give back the two or three tax rebate cheques for a couple of hundred bucks the Harris government made such a big production of mailing out.
The one think Harris reportedly did do was eliminate the province’s deficit, but at one hell of a cost to millions of people who needed the services his government cut.
Do you think it’s not going to happen again? Watch.
Only this time it may be a lot harder to feel sorry for people who were around during the Mike Harris years and who voted for this kind of cut and gut platform again, then turn around and complain when they see cuts to services they need.
When the complaining begins, as I expect it will well before next year at this time, I may be tempted to ask those complaining the most if they voted for Doug Ford, before entertaining them with a bit of a twist on that old adage; “If you didn’t vote you have no right to complain.”
The new line will be; “If you voted for Ford, you have no right to complain.”
Then I will quote back that vow Doug Ford made on election night; “My friends …. We are going to turn this province around so that our children and their children will feel proud to call Ontario their home.”
Here a line for us that is closer to the truth; “My friends. … Fasten your seat belts because the next four years are going to be a very bumpy ride.”
Here is a news release Doug Ford and his new government circulated earlier this June 29th –
Toronto, Ontario — Doug Ford is today (Friday, June 29th) joining thousands of people on the front steps of Ontario’s legislature as Ontario’s first ever Government for the People is sworn-in.
“I will never forget why I’m here: to work for the people of Ontario,” said Ford. “I promised the people that I would help make our great province the best place in North America when it comes to business, creating jobs and raising a family. And I am going to keep my promise.”
The Premier-Designate has met with The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario to present his recommendations for appointments to Ontario’s Executive Council.
The new Government for the People will be sworn-in and affirmed in a public ceremony on the front steps of the Legislative Building at Queen’s Park.
The new ministers are as follows:
- Peter Bethlenfalvy – President of the Treasury Board
- Raymond Cho – Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
- Steve Clark – Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
- Christine Elliott – Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Deputy Premier
- Victor Fedeli – Minister of Finance and Chair of Cabinet
- Doug Ford – Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
- Merrilee Fullerton – Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities
- Ernie Hardeman – Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
- Sylvia Jones – Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
- Lisa MacLeod – Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues
- Monte McNaughton – Minister of Infrastructure
- Caroline Mulroney – Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs
- Rod Phillips – Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
- Greg Rickford – Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs
- Laurie Scott – Minister of Labour
- Todd Smith – Minister of Government and Consumer Services, and Government House Leader
- Lisa Thompson – Minister of Education
- Michael Tibollo – Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
- Jim Wilson – Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
- John Yakabuski – Minister of Transportation
- Jeff Yurek – Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
“We have an all-star team that’s ready right now to give the people of Ontario the kind of leadership and direction they deserve,” said Ford. “For too long, the people of Ontario have worked more and paid more, but gotten less. Those days are over. Help is here.”
NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.
A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.
For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .