Would it surprise you if I were to tell you that when I was young kid and later a teen, that I was a shy wallflower? It would! Surprise you? Hmmph, I didn’t think I’d fool anyone. If you furrowed your brow and said, “ya, right!” you’d be spot on. Ask my brothers and friends and they would laugh at the thought. I was never was one to shy away from speaking my mind and even enjoy the limelight when kibitzing with my friends. Personally I prefer spontaneity rather than planned or rehearsed productions. However, I truly do admire the artistic talent and flair that I see in others. Here in Algoma-Manitoulin there is no shortage of talented theatrical artisans, both amateur and professional. The De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Storytellers, Thinking Rock Community Arts and 4elements Living Arts are but a few such examples of local talent.
But as much admiration as I have for all of our talented local theatrical artists, my experience over the last year in Queen’s Park has lead me to the opinion that there is an incredibly talented troop that sits just across the aisle from my colleagues and I. I swear, some days I walk from the House back to my office shaking my head thinking that someone needs to come up with a “Tony Award” style recognition for politicians on the political stage. The talent in Queen’s Park that is going unrecognized is staggering!
Just days ago, news medias reported that, despite appearances in the Legislature, things are not quite as rosy on the Government side as they might seem at first glance. Just watching the over-the-top praise and adulation that Conservative MPPs heap on Doug Ford every time he speaks, (or even walks into the House for that matter,) brings to mind visions of the Great Caesar addressing the multitudes at the Coliseum. The truth of the matter is that several anonymous Conservative staffers and MPPs have come right out and said that several of the fold have been reprimanded for not clapping loudly or enthusiastically enough. Former Conservative MPP Randy Hillier was kicked out of caucus for as much.
It seems, however, that this dog and pony show has run its course. According to the Toronto Star, Conservative MPPs have reached their limit. In mid-June several of them went to Ford personally to say they are working in a culture of fear similar to that of former USSR. MPPs are complaining that dealing with Ford’s Chief of Staff, Dean French, is tantamount to dealing with the KGB.
The Star reported that two MPPs summoned up enough courage to approach Ford personally about their concerns.
“Sources said a rookie Greater Toronto Area MPP broke down in tears after being scolded by French outside the airport hotel on Thursday in front of the premier, other MPPs and staffers. The chief of staff admonished her for complaining directly to Ford about the government’s communications strategy instead of broaching it through proper channels.”
All of this was verified by Ford’s own director of communications.
It is clear that such reports are not news to Ford. In fact it is reported that Ford himself criticized Randy Hillier for not being enthusiastic enough in clapping for him. Yet, Ford feigns shock and dismay when told some of his MPPs are on the verge of breaking down. The next day he told his caucus that from now on, Conservative MPPs would be treated with respect.
We can assume that Doug Ford cares about the individual players of his troop since they are the ones who will make him or break him as the leader. He has an intimate working relationship with them. How many times has he claimed publicly that he has 1000% confidence in his team’s ability and credibility? The Conservatives almost seem to ooze compassion. Yet, look how they are treated by Ford and his executive staffers.
So here is my point. If Doug Ford does not value his own MPPs to stand up for them and help them to do their job well, how much concern and respect does he have for the regular people of Ontario?
How much concern and respect did Doug Ford show to the families with children having Autism when we watched him rip away the funding they desperately need to help their children find some degree of independence and a place in society?
How much concern and respect is he showing for low-income and vulnerable citizens by ripping away $15 million, a full 30 percent cut, in funding from community legal clinics across the province?
Ask people how much respect did the Conservatives demonstrate when they announced new the optional Indigenous curriculum would be implemented without consulting Indigenous communities, officials and educators.
What concern did Doug Ford show for our youth by ripping away funding for programs that have helped thousands of college and university students to give up the deadly habit of smoking?
Need I go on?
Remember I said we need to create an award devoted specifically to recognizing the theatrical skills of politicians on the political stage. I’ve got the perfect name. How about, “The Dougies?”
Where do I submit my nominations?
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@example.com or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.
Michael Mantha MPP/député