One does not need to be some sort of political analyst or historian to know that the game of politics is in constant transition. At times I am certain the field bears little resemblance to the game played back in the day by prominent former political figures such as Primer Minister Lester Pearson or Ontario Premiers Mitch Hepburn and Bill Davis. Personally I can attest that the game has even changed since I was first elected. By this I don’t mean that politics has become more partisan. It’s always been a very partisan game. But in days gone by, despite political differences and left, right or centrist leaning philosophies, there used to be a stronger commitment by government to doing what is right for the people.
In my mind, at least, a government’s duty is to act in the best interest of its citizens, whether the issue is healthcare, education, transportation, the environment, hydro or clean energy. The difference between parties is the pathway the government lays out to improve the lives of the people.
You will recall back in the spring that the Ford Conservatives determined that they were going to make massive cuts to Ontario’s healthcare system, no matter what the cost. Using the art of distraction and slight-of-hand, they announced how they basically were going to improve healthcare and end hallway medicine forever. Ontarians know that there is no such thing as magic. Needless to say, Doug Ford is no magician.
In my travels I have heard people’s descriptions of Doug Ford. Some constituents say he is bull headed - some say he just bulldozes over people and problems – some of his own MPPs have described him as a bully – while many that I hear from just say that he’s full of…. well never mind.
These days our children are being taught in school to stand up for themselves and each other. They are being taught that when they stand together, positive support and bonds develop and bullies back down. I’m happy to say that the people of Ontario are learning they too can stand up and make themselves heard. In fact it seems that his own cabinet members have learned this same lesson too as evidenced by the hastened exit of his right hand whip, Dean French. Unfortunately former Conservative, and now independent MPP Randy Hillier stood up to Ford just a little before the rest of his colleagues did, hence his expulsion from the Conservative caucus.
There are several recent events which clearly exemplify the fact that the People of Ontario have caught on that standing up to Ford works.
First, think back to the spring when the Conservatives announced that as a cost cutting measure they were going to eliminate out-of-country OHIP coverage for Ontarians who live with kidney failure and must rely upon kidney dialysis. Dialysis can be completed all over the world, so there is no reason that individuals who are diagnosed with kidney failure must live out their lives staying at home close to the dialysis clinic. Not to be denied their freedom, Ontario kidney patients collectively stood up to Doug Ford made him listen to them. By standing up and making themselves heard, these people brought about a partial reversal of the Government’s decision. Credit goes to the brave dialysis patients who spoke out at Queen’s Park, and in their own communities, against this short-sighted move. New Democrats were proud to stand alongside dialysis patients, and every Ontarian, against the Ford government’s harmful cuts to our health care system.
A second example of Ontarians making an incredibly effective stand involved the disastrous, sweeping changes to funding for families who have children with autism. The Ford Conservatives caused incredible despair and heartache when they announced the devastating cuts. Heartless cuts so deep that parents realized they would never be able to afford treatment costing as much as $80,000 a year, thus sentencing their child to a living a life with little chance of knowing any sort of independence, success and self-worth. To make matters worse, it was proven that the waitlist the Conservatives pointed to as the cause was simply a fictitious justification to save money!
Everyone knows, you don’t come between a momma bear and her cub. The same can be said of the dedicated loving families of children with Autism. These families, along with many thousands of supporters and devoted service providers, stormed Queen’s Park to make themselves heard. Once again, New Democrats were so very proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these families and workers. Their stand was so successful that Social Services Minister Todd Smith recently announced that the Conservatives admit they bungled the revamp and are in the process of revisiting the autism program by increasing funding and meeting with parents and stakeholders.
There are other examples of Ontarians successfully standing up to Ford such as the sex education curriculum in which they caused he and his caucus to walk decisions back or at least reconsider and make necessary adjustment.
So yes, politics in Ontario has changed. But thankfully it seems that Ontario voters and learning and adapting to the changes to help ensure their government listens to them and works for them. But clearly this is a work in progress.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.
Michael Mantha MPP/député