There is so much disenchantment in the air that two new conservative-minded provincial parties have sprung up to challenge Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government on election day June 2. Some formerly staunch PC supporters have for the first time decided they cannot vote for their preferred party.
Why? They argue that Premier Ford abdicated his responsibilities when he shut down the province two years ago. While others approved of lockdowns, Ford himself failed to impress.
It was certainly deflating to watch the premier complain that if he didn’t listen to his chief medical officer of health, it would be like putting a noose around his own neck. Graphic image but not persuasive. We’ve all heard teenagers offer similar excuses. “Jimmy made me do it.” For Ford, this was the moment when the mask fell and he revealed that leadership was missing from his quiver of virtues. He had the responsibility to consult the province’s emergency preparedness team and hear from leaders in healthcare, small businesses, youth advocates and religious leaders and others about their concerns over how to handle the pandemic and the effects of restrictive measures and then make a decision that would most benefit everyone, while protecting the most vulnerable. He chose instead to bow to an unelected bureaucrat and locked down Ontarians more than any other jurisdiction in North America. Small businesses and their employees paid dearly for it, as did masked children and youth, many of whom were forced online for much of two years while being banned from sports and socialization. It is jaw-dropping to see how many people, whose lives and pay cheques were not affected by lockdowns, showed so little concern for those who shouldered this painful burden.
But, one argues, Ford was faced with a pandemic, was under a lot of pressure and we should cut him some slack. Yes, he was and difficult times are precisely when we need a leader. For the rest of the time, governments do best by protecting level playing fields and ensuring fairness and then getting out of the way and letting people live their lives and enjoy their freedom.
But that’s not the case anymore. And this is a much bigger reason why so many are so disenchanted. Governments don’t get out of our way and haven’t been getting out of our way for so long that people increasingly need to seek permission for just about everything. Where did you say I can build my fence? What material can I use? Do I need to buy a permit? Can I build on my own property? Can I chop a tree down in my yard?
Governments are in our faces. They tell us what to buy and what to eat and what to believe. They offer us “free” stuff that we pay for in taxes while we give up more freedom, filling the country with followers and freeloaders when duty requires us to be self-reliant free thinkers.
One wonders if the core of the apple is now rotten. On the most important issues, Ontario’s three main political parties are in agreement that government knows more than parents about raising children and even knows better than you who your child is.
As the old saying goes, when you take your hand off the rudder, we drift to the left. The three-party system has drifted so far that fixing this mess requires all voters to get more involved. Write to your representatives, join forces with friends and go to townhall meetings. If you don’t want your children to come home with new and fashionable, but destructive ideas about the basics in biology, history and civilization itself, monitor closely your school board and your school and what is being taught in the classroom.
While the upcoming election will likely result in the tinkering of this or the tweaking of that, our daily lives are not going to change for the better until we the people get off the sofa and get involved in influencing the direction of our political parties.