Ontario’s “First-ever government of the people”?

As I write this column there are just over 100 days until Canada’s next federal election. In terms of experiencing such a countdown – been there – done that. All signs show this one, as with our own last provincial election, in the words of the late Danny Gallivan (former Hockey Night in Canada play by play commentator), this is going to be a “barn burner.”

That being said, until just days ago, the jury was still out on why Doug Ford really decided upon having such an incredibly long summer recess for the Legislative Assembly. Don’t get me wrong – the delayed return is good for me as an individual MPP because I am really making the most of having extra time to spend in the riding and in the office. (Make hay while the sun shines, you know…)

But in the last few days while Canadian premiers were meeting in Calgary, if there was any doubt before about why we are having such an extended break, it’s been firmly established now. After Doug Ford’s performance in Calgary, the reason for the extended recess is to keep him from blowing the possibility of Andrew Sheer’s Conservatives forming the next federal government.

Let’s be honest. Conservative staffers just don’t know what words or policy are going to come out of Ford’s mouth at any moment. With the election looming, Sheer can ill afford to have Ford putting out statements or policies that might make voters think twice about voting Conservative.

It hardly seems it was only a year ago that Doug Ford was the belle of the ball across the country, basking in the honeymoon glow after his election victory as he met only weeks later with his provincial counterparts. But, as they say, what a difference a year makes. He quickly transitioned from rising political star to a plummeting meteorite.

It seems that things were going all according to plan in Calgary until the national media provided Ford with an opportunity to express his thoughts on how the Premiers’ Conference was going. Watching and listening to our Premier speak, his tendency to imitate his hero south of the border in the use of outlandish hyperbole and superlatives has become commonplace. As an example, one of his first and most memorable was describing his newly elected government as the ‘first-ever government of the people.’ Remember that one? So who were all of the other governments in Ontario’s history elected to represent? So, this time in Calgary when asked by media about this Premiers’ Conference he stated, “This is the first opportunity this country has ever seen… from coast to coast, from the east to the west, we have likeminded premiers that want their provinces to thrive.” Really Mr. Ford? Of course he was referring to the fact that there are several premiers at the conference who are from the Conservative fold. But, don’t you think the premiers from the other provinces also want to see their province and our country thrive?

Unfortunately for Mr. Sheer, Doug Ford was not finished. Ford went on to prove that, similar to the old song title, Ford ♪only has eyes for…blue…♫saying, “You’ve seen a clean sweep right across the country — blue, blue, blue, blue, every single election— this is a great opportunity for the nation.” I think Doug Ford must have been very good at paying attention in class when discussing current events. It seems to me that British Columbian’s chose NDP Premier John Horgan in their last election and that in May of this year Newfoundlanders re-elected Liberal Premier Dwight Ball. Heck, according to Postmedia columnist Don Braid who attended the media event, Doug Ford didn’t even get Horgan’s name right referring to him as, “Premier Hogirth” until Premier Kenny corrected him. Embarrassing for everyone.

Remember also, Doug Ford is really keen on taking his show on the road, not only across Canada but abroad and south of the border. How impressed were hydro regulators in Washington State and Idaho with Doug Ford’s performance when Ontario Hydro wanted to purchase power producer Avista Corporation? Those two states issued a definite stop order on that purchase after they learned how Ford runs things in this province. It brings to mind when his brother Mayor Rob Ford took his show on the road, making the rounds on the American late night talk show circuit. Also not one of Canada’s brighter moments.

Remember how Ford dismissed all accusations of inappropriate meddling in ministry affairs by his Chief of Staff, Dean French, who was forced recently to resign? Remember when French ordered the OPP to purchase a new van for Ford and to keep the purchase off the books to prevent the public from learning about it? Remember how Doug Ford said he was shocked and dismayed when he heard about French’s ministerial interference and the abuse of his own MPPs at the hands of French? The kindest explanation I say is that Ford loves to wear blue filtered lenses in his sunglasses.

I would have a hard time arguing with anyone that extending Queen’s Park summer recess to the end of October is rather excessive. It goes without saying that the leader of any federal party has no power or control over any provincial party leader – or at least shouldn’t have. However, I have to admit that I do understand Sheer’s desperate anxiety having a loose cannon like Ford “helping him out” on the election campaign trail.

As for me, however, – I plan on making hay while the sun shines as I crisscross Algoma-Manitoulin all summer long.

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 protected]or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.

Michael Mantha MPP/député

Algoma-Manitoulin

Mike Mantha

Michael Mantha is a politician in Ontario, Canada. He is a New Democratic member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario who was elected in 2011. He's the NDP critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and critic for Northern Development and Mines. He represents the riding of Algoma—Manitoulin.
Mike Mantha