Sandy Lake, Ontario Finally at the end of the day with the dinner bell ahead of the ACORN Canada staff at the management and new staff training, Judy Duncan, the head organizer, directed all of us to the next item: “Ontario campaigns ‘fight back’ – what is possible?” Here we were almost two years after the Trump upset and triumph in the US, where we are still reeling every day, and I was suddenly listening to déjà vu all over again, as the Canadian crew detailed the shellshock of a new conservative premier, Doug Ford, coming to power and sweeping away what the Liberals and the New Democratic Party (NDP) had cobbled together in recent years. Too many times it sounded like Doug Ford wanted to be called Donald north of the border.
Sure, there were some warnings. The post-election reports had forecast that he would try to figure out a way to scale back to smaller government and claim to be looking at the books. The rising cost of electricity or hydro, as it is called here, had been a tone-deaf and witless move by the former premier, so heads had to fall and few would fault him. On the other hand, rewriting sex education in the schools and trying to pull back from cap-and-trade carbon arrangements to protect the climate, seemed almost un-Canadian for the tolerant and forward thinking country in the north.
But, then the deluge. Now, it appears the steady movement to $15 per hour minimum wage in Ontario is likely dead-on-arrival. Pulling back on cap-and-trade didn’t have a ripple effect, but was a tsunami washing over lower income families that ACORN represented. Several hundred million had been committed in retrofits for social housing. Gone. One organizer told about a playground project at a local school where parents and others had raised money years that was scheduled to finally be built this fall that was suddenly scrapped when the money from cap-and-trade coming from the provincial government to support school projects was also gone.
Then there were more surprises coming from right field. The day before police review legislation was to go into effect, he had it suspended. He wanted to cut the size of the Toronto city council suddenly which was something never mentioned during his campaign. Ford shelved laws passed to restrict vaping, which even the Trump administration is moving to curtail among young people. He pushed back laws that would have cracked down on ticket scalping. What the frick?!?
Taking another tragic page from the Trump playbook he also embraced racism. He scrapped a separate minister for indigenous affairs and of course kicked the hornets’ nest there. Amazingly, he appointed a cabinet of mostly white men. Who does that? I mean aside from Donald Trump.
You get the message, right? For all the folks who claimed in 2016, that they were thinking about going to Canada to escape the Trump regime, think again if your GPS is set for Ontario. No matter the talk about NAFTA and Canada, the “wall” is going down between Trump’s America and Ford’s Canada, and it’s going to be as ugly in that part of the north, as it is in the south, just on a slight time delay.