I was having some work done on my car the other day, and I used the opportunity to look at the worn tread on my tires. I smiled at the mechanic and said, “So that’s where my summer went.”
Man, it was a busy summer! As always, I enjoyed attending the many parades, powwows, art shows, music fests and more. I especially enjoyed several opportunities to ‘cool down’ at several dunk tanks when constituents could dunk me by pitching a ball. Yes, the events are fun, but more importantly, they are excellent opportunities to speak face-to-face with thousands of constituents about issues that matter to them. And now, this coming week, it’s back to Queen’s Park. My mantra is going to be, let’s get serious and deliver what our communities need.
The other day, I read comments by the Speaker of the House, Ted Arnott, on the CBC News website. He concurred with my opinion, saying, “It’s going to be a very energetic time in the legislature, let’s put it that way. But I think it’s important that we discuss and debate our ideas professionally and, to the greatest extent possible, listen to each other and try to move forward together.”
I genuinely hope members on both sides of the aisle listen to the Speaker and follow his lead.
Those who know me or have seen how I carry out my duties at Queen’s Park know I have no use for heckling and theatrics. I have no interest in scoring political points and self-serving partisanship. MPPs are elected to make life better for all Ontarians.
MPPs are elected to listen to people from all political parties and exchange points of view. Hurling insults and mocking do not help to get the job done. Undoubtedly, there will be different perspectives, but that does not diminish or negate their goals or ideas. We have a duty as elected officials to work respectfully with one another, listening and sharing our views as we govern the province.
It is so very troubling when I hear from voters that they have no interest in politics and that the reason is they are tired of political antics, theatre and deception. Politicians who do this are thumbing their nose at a sacred trust, which is the bedrock of democracy.
And without hesitation or intended malice, I say Premier Ford indeed leads the way in this regard for his caucus. He is a master at distracting the attention of voters and media alike. Mr. Ford makes it all look so simple. At times, he even appears to be bumbling like he is caught off guard, as the wheels are falling off all around him. He looks like variety show plate spinners of old, panically running from pole to pole, trying to keep so many plates spinning and not come crashing down. But, just like the plate spinners, it is all just theatrics. He is distracting people from watching what he is doing in the background.
By way of example, think of the recent Greenbelt debacle. His government was accused of handing over thousands of acres of environmentally protected land for housing development. The affair was investigated by the Auditor General, the Integrity Commissioner and looked at by the OPP and RCMP for potential follow-up. The government’s primary purpose was to fill the coffers of select developers with billions of dollars in profits – on lands that were not even needed for housing development in the first place.
The above investigations concluded that the Minister and some of his staff did not follow the laws, and it was determined that the government favoured certain supporters. Yet, Premier Ford refused to fire his Minister of Housing until his hand was forced when the Minister resigned.
But it didn’t end there. The Premier chose to shock voters by saying that not only was the housing plan going forward, but there would also be a review of the decision to remove some parts of Greenbelt and that people should not be surprised to see even more parcels of Greenbelt removed. It’s sort of a twist on the old “the best defence is offence” strategy.
At the same time as all of this was happening, Doug Ford risked the rights and safety of Ontario youth from the LBGTQs+ community by criticizing Ontario school boards for “indoctrinating” our children with over-the-top liberal ideology on gender education.
At a Ford Fest rally, Doug Ford told supporters, “It is not up to the teachers. It’s not up to the school boards to indoctrinate our children.” Teacher unions, school boards and the LBGTQ2+ community called Premier Ford out on his comments, accusing him of callously using children as pawns. Kojo Modeste, executive director of Pride Toronto, stated. “I strongly believe this is just another way of the premier and his ministers deflecting and trying to move away from some of the real issues we’re facing in this province.”
Premier Ford did not make these comments to protect our Children. He made the comments as a political distraction ploy.
My point is that, in the end, MPPs are elected to do what is right and best for the people of Ontario. If a proposal or argument is sound, proper and honourable, no theatrics, trickery or drama are needed to convince people. When we act according to logic and ethical principles, people will develop a sense of trust and demonstrate a willingness to compromise and work together for the good of all.
When I return to Queen’s Park, I do so having taken to heart the many conversations that I’ve had while on the road, as well as the calls and letters my team and I received over the summer months. I am eager to get the job done for the people of Algoma-Manitoulin. I am ready to work respectfully and enthusiastically with members and leaders on both sides of the aisle. At the same time, I plan to do my part to keep the government in check and hold them accountable to the electors of Ontario.
I genuinely hope that all members will follow the lead of the Speaker.
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 Toll-free at 1-800-831-1899.
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