How many times have you heard someone say to you, “It takes all kinds?” Such a phrase usually follows a situation or story about someone who thinks or does something that is out of the ordinary. Generally speaking, the phrase is usually used in a derogatory way. In truth, however, in order for this old world to work, we really do need to have all kinds. We need to have, and should embrace all kinds.
I frequently look back to my experience as a youth in school. I’m thankful to say that I was fortunate enough to have had all kinds of teachers. Some strict, some fun, academic, practical, accepting, challenging, encouraging and so on. The last thing our education system needs is exposing our children to a steady stream of teachers who focus their lessons and structure only on academic performance. Our children need to have a balance in exposure to different types of teachers that have a variety of styles and focuses. But, the one thread that must be evident in all, however, is a desire to help all children learn and grow, no matter who they are or what their backgrounds are.
The same philosophy is applicable in the political world as well. A democracy with an array of politicians and leaders who demonstrate a wide variety of styles, skills, and priorities is optimum. But, just as in education, there needs to be a strong and meaningful thread. Elected officials must have making lives of all of their constituents better as their main goal. We must endeavour to work for the benefit of all people, not just a chosen or preferred segment.
In the last election, Doug Ford pledged his eternal allegiance to the little guy; a trait that is truly appealing to the masses as most of us feel we can identify with this at some level. Personally speaking, in all honesty, even as an elected politician, I certainly can identify with the little guys in Algoma-Manitoulin. When I talk or meet with constituents I always endeavour to try to see and, if possible, understand things from their perspective. I can and do identify with Joe Canada because, as the old commercial said, “I am Joe” too.
I wish I could say the same for Premier Ford and those whom he has placed in positions of power all around him. If Doug Ford truly could identify with the little guy, he could not possibly have chosen many of his actions or in some cases, inactions.
For example, consider the huge segment of our population who are diagnosed as diabetic. It has been estimated that 1 in 16 Canadians are diabetic. Actually the ratio is likely significantly higher as so many people go undiagnosed for years. My office receives many calls and letters requesting improved benefits for diabetic patients. For years, the Canadian Diabetes Association has advocated for diabetics who struggle to pay for expensive monitoring devices, which provide real-time analysis of blood sugar levels and are therefore critical to maintaining optimum health for those with Type 1 Diabetes. In an effort to provide relief for these people, the NDP proposed Bill 272 which would add glucose and flash monitoring devices to Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program (ADP). Having such devices would mean a better quality of life for adults living with Diabetes, and fewer tears for kids living with the disease, doing away with the need for finger pricks. They would make monitoring one’s blood sugar easier so that people can make real-time adjustments to their diets and medication, thus increasing the quality of life and possible lifespan.
This month the Ford Conservatives chose to forego an opportunity to help thousands of Ontarians by rejecting the bill in its entirety, thus forcing thousands of diabetics to needlessly continue to face ongoing struggles. How is this showing care and compassion for the little guy?
In an even more timely example that hits close to home, just days ago, Ontarians were shocked to learn that Greyhound Bus Lines is closing its operations across Canada permanently. Thousands of Ontarians who depend on Greyhound, especially many who live in the rural areas or the North, will be literally stranded, and once again, leaving them left far behind. Our university and college students are being denied an affordable way to get between home and school. Our seniors who need to get to medical appointments or to be reunited with their grandkids once this pandemic nightmare is over are having their independence stripped. These regular folks all need and deserve a reliable, affordable inter-city transit solution.
The Liberals and Conservatives have already cut and limited other transit options — like the Northlander — and Doug Ford needs to tell us how he’s going to fill the massive gap left behind. Regional transportation is an essential service. It should not be left up to a for-profit corporation.
Those readers who follow such matters know that New Democrats have long been calling for the expansion of the province’s two existing public regional transportation companies, GO and Ontario Northland. Now is the time to do it. We will have to see how much Doug Ford can identify with those who are facing serious transportation issues as a result of Greyhound’s closure.
I firmly believe that it is the duty of elected officials to bring the voice of all constituents to the legislative assembly. They need to hear what the average family and seniors have to say and truly understand their perspective. We need leadership who does more than pay lip service to the little guy at election time. We need a government that is tuned into what is best for all Ontarians rather than rich and influential political supporters with centristic interests.
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