In the weeks since the first Ford Ontario Conservative budget, we’ve been seeing a steady drip of stories coming out about cut after cut after cut. These stories have brought out levels of frustration and consternation the likes of while Ontario hasn’t seen since the Harris years. A couple of days ago we heard about another such cut, one that had a lot of people shaking their heads for various reasons:
Trees. Yep, the next thing on the chopping block is the planting of trees. How much did that save the people of Ontario? $4.7 million. Yeah, that’s it. In the scheme of the massive Ontario budget, that is a drop in the bucket, but it was a drop that helped to plant trees in places where forests were long lost, to help sequester more carbon and to help further mitigate flooding around rivers and lakes. It seemed like a very noble program, and a wise and productive use of money; little money in, but big benefit out.
So why do this? Why do something that will lead to more erosion in flood zones, poorer air and water quality, warmer lakes and streams without forest cover to shade them, less wildlife habitat and less capacity to sequester carbon? Well the Ford Conservatives replied to that by saying the forestry industry plants 68 million trees per year, which is true. The Forestry sector does plant that many trees every year, to replace the trees that they have harvested. It’s called sound sylvicultural practices, something that the forestry sector is well known for. But folks, those trees serve a different purpose than that 50 million that the Ford Conservatives just cut. Those trees were not for harvesting, they were for that long list of things I just wrote above. Is the Ford Government suggesting that this is why they are doing this? That the forestry sector will pick that up instead? I think that would be news to the sector if that was the case.
But folks, this story just gets more and more confusing the more you look into it. Do you know where the idea for this 50 Million Tree Program came from? Well, that’s a twist that makes this all the more confusing:
Yep, this idea was the brainchild of Conservative MPP Ted Arnott, who is now the Speaker of the Ontario Legislature. And it wasn’t just his idea, it was of a motion that Mr. Arnott brought forward in the last legislature and was passed unanimously by the place. Yeah, this was a Conservative environmental initiative, that cost very little and was getting big results, that got the axe. You’d think that the Conservatives would be pointing at this as an example of how they can be good on the environment, how they can help reduce GHG emissions and be better stewards of the land. You’d think that Doug Ford would want to plaster this as a “For the People” example getting things done. Well it’s funny to mention what Mr. Ford motivations might have been because……
Wow everyone, that is a wild and crazy story. That thread is an amazing yet freaky insight into the operation of this government and the Premier’s office. Sure the he “never promises anything 100%” line is a whopper of one given some of the very clear promises and statements he made on the campaign trail about not one single job being lost, but lets look past that for a moment to that part that focuses specifically on the tree funding. He openly admitting to a citizen who called him on his personal cell phone out of the blue that he had no idea about this story, that he didn’t hear about it until he read it in the media. Then he supposedly called his office and his staff told him his talking points. That’s all kinds of insane. He then went on to make the same admission around legal aide cuts.
But everyone, there is a serious question to be asked here: who in the Hell is running the Government of Ontario? If we are to take this at its word, there are major decisions that are being made by somebody in government without the Premier having a clue about them until it hits the media, let alone having a hand in the decision making. It’s either that or he was telling a lie to this person in an attempt to try to protect himself. Either way, this is a seriously bad look on this Premier, government and province. That leaves us having to ask the serious question about who is really running the Good Ship PC at Queen’s Park. Is it the Premier’s staff? Is it certain ministers? We can’t say for sure but the fact that we’re even able to realistically question it is a bad thing.
And to top it all off for folks on the national scene, remember right now Doug Ford is one of the provincial Premiers leading Andrew Scheer around by the nose, as he falls in line with whatever strategy that those provincial leaders come up with. How does it look for the Federal Conservative leader to be led around by a guy who seems to not even be in charge of running his own government that he was elected to lead? Yikes man, this is insane and far from a good look.
So, with this story we have seen bad decisions with no rationale and all seemingly without the knowledge of the person ultimately responsible for it all: Wow, welcome to 2019 in Ontario. Strap in folks because this ride keeps getting crazier and crazier.