News from the Park

I know there are a lot of people in the world who hold fast to the idea that the only people in the world who like change are babies. Well, clearly this has been a widely quoted quip for generations, but in reality there is little substance to the saying. Personally, I’m all for change – with one proviso; the change has to be for the better.


When you think of change at the institutional, organizational or political level, it is the duty of elected leaders to seek out opportunities for needed change. However, before any changes are made, the reason change is needed must be clear. In addition to understanding the reason, it is imperative that before the changes are instituted, very careful consideration must be given to how the changes will be instituted and what ramifications can be expected as a result.


Doug Ford campaigned on a platform of change. Ontarians were absolutely desperate for a change after 15 years of Liberal Governments. However, I’m pretty sure when Ontarians voted for change they just made the assumption that the changes would be the result of in depth, high-level planning and preparation. And I know for a fact they expected the changes would be for the better. Unfortunately for Ontarians, Doug Ford’s record to date has been abysmal at best. And there is a boatload of proof of this.


To begin, just think back to the acrimonious response to Ford’s changes to delivering support to the families of children who fall within the autistic spectrum. After languishing for years and years on waiting lists for assistance, across the province the families were told that the Conservatives would reduce wait times by making enormous cuts to funding and telling families to take what funding they do get and decide for themselves the best way to meet their family’s needs. After months of unparalleled protests by families, service providers and educators, Doug Ford finally agreed to reconsider the decisions -- but only after the real damage was done.


Another example was the sex education curriculum. Ford campaigned on a promise to revert back to decades old sex-ed curriculums. Ford promised change. Thankfully after months long hue and cry from thousands of parents, students, educators and a plethora of societal special interest groups, the Conservatives agreed to reconsider their decisions. In the end they basically scrapped all of their plans and reinstituted the most recent curriculum.


Franco Ontarians also fell victim to Ford’s whirlwind theme of change. The conservatives not only axed the position of French Language Services Commissioner last fall, but also said that they were pulling the plug on plans for a dedicated French university. Of course after hearing complaints, Ford rethought both decisions. In the end the Conservatives considered the need for the Francophone vote and announced they were ready to discuss a cost sharing agreement with the federal government.


Currently Ontarians are witnessing Doug Ford’s attempt to fix something that wasn’t broken – that is until he decided a change was needed. Here of course I refer to the vehicle license plates that are said to be unreadable in various settings and conditions. Knowing that blue is Doug Ford’s favourite colour, it came as no surprise that the Government elected not only to go with blue on new vehicle license plates, but in fact chose double blue.


As soon as the new plates began to appear on Ontario roads, police services began to report that the plates glare under lights at night and are, at times, impossible to read. When Minister Lisa Thompson was questioned about the problem plates she immediately rose in the Legislature to defend the decision to design new, cheaper plates, stating “They were tested for readability at night…. I can assure you that we have been exhaustive with our testing. We have tested in terms of readability, reflectivity and durability on a whole host of weather conditions, and they passed.” Clearly the minister used the same amount of time investigating and formulating her response as the Ministry did in researching the need for and suitability of the new plates – i.e. no time.


The next day in the Legislature, NDP MPP Jennifer French asked the Minister about the issue stating, “I thought Ontario was a place to grow, not a place to glow.” The Minister’s research and consideration seemed to parallel that of the Ministry in researching the need and suitability of the plates. Minister Thompson again rose only to retract her comments stating that there actually is a problem but that it is all the designing company’s fault and that it was up to the company to derive a solution.


Believe it or not, I think I have come up with an explanation for the cause of not only the plates but for the many other ill-thought changes that the Ford Government has implemented. It all has to with the colour of the lenses that Ford wears when he comes up with these ideas.


No doubt readers have seen examples of various coloured lenses in glasses. They were especially popular back in the Disco 70’s era. Wearing coloured lenses changes ones perception of the colours that surround us by acting like filters. Coloured lenses absorb all colours of light except whatever colour the lenses are. For example, glasses with blue lenses absorb green light and red light but allow blue light to pass though to the eye. This makes items that are colours other than blue harder to see. In other words, when we look at the world through blue lenses, all we see is what the world looks like from a blue (Conservative) perspective. Other perspectives just – are not considered.


So it’s no wonder that Doug Ford loved the double blue vehicle plates. The problem is that he was only seeing them from his own perspective. He couldn’t see any problems that were obvious to the rest of the world.


Now, do the same thing with all of the illustrations above. Just look at them from a “Conservative/blue” perspective and you get the same filtered results. You only see what you want to see.


When it comes to change, it’s a good thing when it’s needed. Changing something like the colour of a room only affects the few who spend time in it. But when you are the premier of a province, your changes need to be based on a need and planned out thoughtfully, keeping in mind the spin-off effects and negative impacts on the lives of citizens.


It’s time that Doug Ford and his caucus got with the times and toss their “blue filtered” glasses in favour of getting a true clear perspective on what their changes will mean to the people of Ontario.

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 mmantha-co@ndp.on.ca or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.


Michael Mantha MPP/député

Algoma-Manitoulin