Ford and Company Working to Diminish the Democratic Right and Freedoms Fought for with Blood and Treasure by Generations of Canadians
From Doug Draper, with Excerpts from a December 30th, 2022 Globe and Mail Editorial
Posted January 3rd, 2022 on Niagara At Large
This past November 24th, the date of the Inaugural Meeting of the 2022-2026 edition of Niagara’s Regional Council, marked the first time in decades that the Region’s Chair (meaning its lead elected leader) was not chosen by councillors and mayors that we, the people, elected to serve on the Council.
Instead, Jim Bradley, who served as the Region’s Chair during the last four-year term, was appointed to a second term by Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Conservative Government – a move that received little more than a shrug from a majority of councillors and mayors at the Inaugural meeting.
Bradley stated later that he accepted no conditions from the Ford government ahead of the appointment and he vowed in interviews with Niagara At Large and other area media outlets that his first priority will remain attending to the interests and concerns of the people of Niagara.
However much I believe him – Bradley has always struck me as a person of honesty and integrity in a world of politics where those attribute are all too rare – how much of a say in Niagara affairs will he and others on the Council really have?
How much will they have with a Premier who so obviously to want to rule municipal governments across Ontario like King Henry the Eighth or like that 20th Century fascist Mussolini?
Indeed, one of the next anti-democratic assault Ford and his minions will make on Niagara will be the appointed of a non-elected “facilitator” who could be anyone it could be former Tory MPP and Niagara Falls regional councillor Bart Maves, former Niagara Regional Chair Al Caslin or former Port Colborne regional councillor and Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) executive Dave Barrick, for all we know.
This facilitator, appointed by and beholden to the Ford government, will apparently have a good deal to say about the future of how Niagara is governed at the municipal level and about who is doing the governing.
It is not even clear if this facilitator will be required to sit at Niagara Regional Council meetings and participate in discussions and debates with in public sessions with our elected councillors. It could be that this Ford-appointed facilitator, working behind the curtains, will have more say over how our regional government is run than anyone on the Council, including the Chair.
Ford has also been talking about bestowing what he calls the same “super powers” he has already granted to the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa, on other municipal leaders across Ontario. This means that municipal mayors and chairs will be able to over-ride their councils if they get one-third of them to vote for a motion over a planning proposal, etc. –but only if that motion is in line with the agenda of Ford and his government.
We also expect that planning decisions in Niagara will be downloaded to local municipalities – potentially negating the need for a planning department at the regional level – and that the say the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) – a partner agency of Niagara Region – is being significantly diminished.
The Ford government is also talking about selling off conservation lands in Niagara to land speculators and developers with no opportunity for the Region and NPCA, much less members of the public, to have any say.
As The Globe and Mail Editorial Board (hardly a group of left-wingers or radicals) said in a December 30th, 2020 editorial, all of this and more adds up to a diminishing, to say the lease of our Canadian democratic values.
What follows is an excerpt from that Globe and Mail editorial – Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
FROM The Globe and Mail EDITORIAL BOARD
“One conclusion many Canadians may come to as they look back at 2022 is that it would be in the country’s best interest to require provincial premiers to complete a civics course before taking office.
Such a conclusion would be based on the steady assaults on our constitutional democracy continued this year by the premiers of Quebec (François Legault), Ontario (Doug Ford) and Alberta (Danielle Smith).
From the chronic overuse of the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause by the premiers of Quebec and Ontario, to the startling misrepresentation of how the Canadian federation works uttered by the premier of Alberta – and a few more slaps to the face in-between – it’s fair to wonder whether these elected leaders have the faintest grasp of what it means to govern in a democracy. ….
In Ontario, Mr. Ford capriciously cut the size of the Toronto municipal council in half during the city’s 2018 election campaign, a petty act of retribution against a council he and his late brother, Rob Ford, were constantly at odds with.
Mr. Ford included the notwithstanding clause in the act that shrunk the council, but he ended up not needing it when the Supreme Court reaffirmed the province’s right to treat municipalities as personal playthings of the Premier.
Thus emboldened, this year Mr. Ford passed a law that allows the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa to adopt bylaws with just one-third of the council vote when it suits his government’s agenda.
That is as anti-democratic as a premier can be without actually outlawing democracy.
Mr. Ford also threatened to use the notwithstanding clause this fall to deprive school support workers of the right to strike. He only backed down after the province’s unions threatened him with a general strike. …
None of this is true to what Canada is meant to be.
This is not a country that represses religious freedoms and workers’ rights, where the state interferes in people’s personal lives, or where a minority can outvote the majority when it suits a government’s purposes.
But we are being pulled in that direction by premiers who have chosen to ignore that they are part of something bigger than their immediate political agendas.
Mr. Legault, Mr. Ford and Ms. Smith are diminishing Canada.”
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