This week I was successful in arranging for some actual time to be in my constituency office to tend to a wide variety of matters that I am unable to attend to while on the road. As such, finding time to actually be in my constituency office is no small task. Sometimes I need my staff to actually block off such time to force me to achieve the simple sounding goal of spending time in town. I readily admit that I count on them to help me maintain this necessary balance.
In one of our team meetings we were discussing this weekly column and one team member commented that this year, unlike virtually all years past, I have put out a column every week all summer. In the past the policy has been to publish it about every two or three weeks. But for some reason it seems that there are so many issues to be addressed that I have found it relatively easy to come up with a timely topic. Hmmmph, funny eh? I wonder what the difference is between now and a couple of years ago? I can’t imagine why this might be…
One of the things that came to my mind this week is that as of August 30th gas retailers are required to post the carbon tax notification stickers that were ordered by Doug Ford. Ford is sending out over 25,000 stickers solely to stir up public resentment on the matter of the carbon pricing measures implemented by the federal government – and he’s doing it just prior to the election that is anticipated to be called for October 21st. No coincidence there.
Legislation requires that all fuel retailers prominently display the stickers on each and every pump in an upright positon within the top 2/3 on the side of the pump that faces the driver while filling their tank. Ford is leaving absolutely nothing to chance for someone to try to find any way to resist.
The 15 x 20cm stickers read, “The federal carbon tax will cost you.” Ford wanted to make sure that the legislation was strictly adhered to by threatening fines of up to $10,000 for each day that the station violates the law, whether by design or error. In comparison of penalties for other offences, Ford’s anti-carbon tax penalties match punishment for using false ID to stock up on gun ammunition or for selling cigarettes in a child care centre or school. One must ask themselves if in Ford’s mind all of these offences do equate in severity, or is this just a tactic of a ham-fisted oligarch who is determined to tell people how and what to think when it comes to taxes and climate change policies. (Star Trek fans will recognize the Borg reference, “Resistance is futile.”)
The stickers highlight the impact of the Federal Liberal Government’s carbon-pricing measures on gasoline, but they do not mention the offsetting rebates Ottawa is sending back to those affected. Ford has committed $30 million of Ontario taxpayers’ money on the Conservative Government’s anti-carbon-pricing campaign as well as another $1 million for court costs for challenging the federal government’s plan.
There is no question that the stickers are blatantly partisan in their aim. NDP MPP Taras Natyshak lodged a formal complaint with Elections Canada maintaining that the Tory-blue decals violate federal campaign laws because the decals will be posted during an election period. In his letter Taras reminded the chief electoral officer that Part 16, section 319 of the Canada Elections Act, 2000 defines elections advertising as “the transmission to the public by any means, during an election period, of an advertising message that promotes or opposes a registered party or the election of a candidate, including one that takes a position on an issue with which a registered party or candidate is associated.”
Now even if you are not yet convinced that the legislation has clearly partisan intentions, just refer to Minister of Energy, Mines, Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford’s response to the complaint: “We’re going to stick it to the Liberals and remind the people of Ontario how much this job-killing, regressive carbon tax costs.”
The whole point of a democracy is to encourage each citizen to listen to the policies and plans of politicians and political parties so that they can make up their own minds freely who best represents their beliefs and ideals. Doug Ford has shown total disregard for Ontario’s voters. Just think for a moment of recent farcical consultations the Conservatives have conducted for healthcare and education as well as lack of consultation with First Nations on several issues involving Indigenous Peoples.
Doug Ford is blowing public money on partisan stickers to help his buddy Andrew Scheer get elected, and putting business owners at risk of conviction and fines just to make sure he gets his way. The duty of any government is first and foremost to see to the needs and welfare of its citizens. The focus should never be on picking partisan fights and brainwashing citizens to think in ways that suit politicians, supporters and financial backers.
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