Michael Mantha MPP, Algoma–Manitoulin

Government of Ontario

News from the Park - March 15, 2021

Published on March 15, 2021

One of the greatest things about being an MPP is enjoying getting to know an incredible array of people.  I use the word array because an array is a collection of things of the same type.  I tend to think of an array as a collection of variables.  This is especially useful when thinking of people in an array.

I have been pondering the recent direction that matters at Queen’s Park have been taking.  It occurs to me that one of the most interesting human arrays is that of priorities.  Of course there is a direct link between our personal values and our priorities.  The way I see it, those people who have a strong sense of what their values and priorities have a much higher probability successfully bringing about growth and achievement.  They are more likely to be successful in reaching goals that are important in life.

Nick Crocker, an Australian business consultant, investor and author is quoted as saying, “The greatest reflection of your priorities is your time.  Whatever you say about what matters to you, the true test is where you place your time.  So if you say your priorities are your partner or your kids or your family or your health, that statement will only be true if your calendar reflects it.

Crocker is right, you know.  We spend time working on what we think is most important.  And the results of our time and effort are in proportion to the real values we live by.

Sitting there in my office at the end of the day, I began to think about what the record of Doug Ford’s initiatives tell Ontarians about the priorities and values that he and his government hold. 

Ontarians who live in rural and Northern regions, such as Algoma-Manitoulin, have long complained about the lack of access to affordable, reliable and up-to-date broadband service.  With the onset of the pandemic, this issue hit the proverbial fan.  With so many people following stay home orders, working and playing from home, students learning at home; this wish became a desperate need.  My office received (and continues to receive) countless phone calls, emails and letters from constituents asking for the government to do something to help them.  Constituents say they are willing to do whatever it takes to beat this virus, but in order to maintain some semblance of normal life and put food on the table, they need help from the government.  And one of the biggest tools that would help is access to affordable, up-to-date broadband. 

In Northern Ontario, broadband is limited and very expensive.  Many families and businesses face monthly internet bills of hundreds of dollars.  Northerners are at a real disadvantage compared to other regions of the province.  New Democrats have been fighting for broadband access for all northerners and communities.  And it’s not only the Ford Conservatives, but also the Liberals, who have chosen not to act.  After three years in government the Ford Conservatives have chosen not to provide the internet infrastructure northerners need.

In response to pleas from Northerners, just this month I put forward a motion that would have brought about much needed relief during this pandemic when internet usage has increased, and costs have shot up.  But Doug Ford made his priorities abundantly clear by voting the motion down.

Ford had the chance with a plan laid in his lap to provide some relief for northerners on their sky high internet bills during the pandemic.  But he demonstrated by his actions that Northerners are not one of his priorities.  Instead, he chose simply shrug off the entire responsibility onto the shoulders of the federal government.  Instead of blaming Ottawa, Ford could have chosen to work on implementing a strategy and work in collaboration with the federal government to bring about positive outcomes. 

But clearly Ford has other priorities greater than the people of Northern Ontario.

One of the priorities greater than helping struggling Northern families was reforming electoral law.  Unfortunately, this reform did not focus on making life (or even voting for that matter) better for Ontarians, but rather it made life better for Doug Ford and his Conservatives.  To put it bluntly, Doug Ford’s electoral changes amount to nothing more than a cash grab and obvious attempt to silence his critics all across the province.

To achieve his higher-placed goal, Ford chose to double the amount of money an individual can donate to political parties.  The fact that in the middle of a pandemic, Doug Ford is trying to fill political coffers by letting deep pocketed donors double the amount they can give, speaks volumes about Ford’s priorities.  Instead of focusing on the devastation of COVID-19, he’s focussed on his re-election efforts. 

I mean, really Mr. Ford?  You think this is a priority Ontarians share?

Just to be fair, though, while in office the Liberals also tried to rack up big money with cash for access.  So now the Ford Conservatives are doing anything they can to get more cash out of each land baron and big business tycoon who have Ford’s back.

It might also interest readers to know that the Ontario NDP received 90,000 individual donations in 2020 — more than all other parties combined — with an average donation amount of just $29.  Raising election donation limits is beneficial to a party that receives fewer, higher average donations – like the Liberals who averaged $146 and the Conservatives who averaged $359 per donation.

A person must be defined by his priorities, not by his desires.  It is a person’s actions that define what their priorities are.  The time is coming when Mr. Ford may wish he had chosen different priorities.

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters.  You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.

Michael Mantha MPP/député