When Ontarians elected the Doug Ford Conservatives to government close to two years ago, the province chose to move in a different direction. You can debate or disagree with the merit of that choice, but it was a choice that was made. Ford ran on a light platform offering the moon and stars and all in a painless way. But instead of getting that, Ontarians have gotten lots of cuts in services, cronyism that has given plum appointments to Ford’s backers and donors and a return to labour strife in the education sector.
It’s been far from a booming success and Doug Ford has managed to become the least popular Premier in the entire country, even less popular than the historically low numbers that his predecessor Kathleen Wynne had. It’s been a mess. But even with all that, a prominent approach of this government has been symbolic, partisan uses of government funds to “rebrand” Ontario in a certain way. We saw the forcing of misleading stickers on the Federal Carbon tax onto gas pumps across the province. We also saw the installation of new signs at the border proclaiming that Ontario was “Open for Business”.
Another such move in this same vein was to remake the Ontario license plate, something that no one was really calling for it should be noted. Gone was the plain white background and the old slogan of “Yours to Discover”, replaced with a two-tone blue design and a new slogan, you guessed it, “Open for Business” and “A Place to Grow”, the last slogan coming from the old Ontario TV ads. Or at least that’s what they’re supposed to say. I say supposed to because there seems to be a glitch with these plates, a serious practical problem that has left many Ontarians shaking their heads:
Kudos to Sgt. Steve Koopman of Kingston for seemingly starting this whole discussion on social media with that simple Tweet and picture, showing the big problem. As you can clearly see, or more to the point, not see, these plates become unreadable at night. That folks is a serious problem for police, emergency workers and kinds of defeats the purpose of having the plate to begin with. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers are unhappy with this and are calling for this to be reviewed .Also the Toronto Star is reporting this morning that photo radar systems are also having troubles with the new designs, being unable to read these new licence plates, which kind of defeats the purpose of photo radar. By the way, it’s actually against the law to obscure your license plate in Ontario to help prevent photo radar from seeing them and people who have put darkened covers over their plates have actually been charged and fined for that. But hey, no need to do that anymore thanks to Doug Ford’s team; this plate does it all by themselves.
Yikes man, yikes! As you can imagine, when you add this to the stories about the government forcing stickers on pumps that automatically started to peel off and the other myriad of flails and fails of this government, it starts to look downright amateurish and embarrassing. But folks, that was before the Ontario Legislature came back and the Ford Conservatives had to answer for this story. It was that circumstance that brought us this pearl of a response from Lisa Thompson, the minister responsible for this mess. Behold this response:
Wait, “Liberal License Plates”? Seriously? That’s the best you’ve got, the old license plates under the past government weren’t perfect? Yeah, the early versions of those plates pealed but that was fixed ages ago. But that fact doesn’t even address whose plates those actually were. No, it wasn’t the Liberals who created those old plates and that design, one that Ontario has been using for a few decades. No, the paternity for that decision belongs to none other than Bill Davis, the former Progressive Conservative Premier of Ontario. So yeah, not only does this Ford Conservative Government, through their minister, refuse to take responsibility for this mistake, they just pivoted to a cheap attempt at a partisan attack against the previous government, even if that attack fails the most basic fact check. Folks, that’s your government “For the People” in a nutshell. You just saw it all, right there, in that scrum and wow, is it embarrassing.
In Ontario we’ve got at least another two years of this embarrassing silliness but I’d hope that even in something as relatively minor as this mistake, in the grand scheme of things, that this government would be able to admit to their mistake and look to fix it. But nope, that seems to be asking too much of this crew as they responded again with utter nonsense that just makes them look bad, even if it makes the Ford Government ministers feel better about this. Feeling better won’t solve this problem but that’s not their concern; they may have created this problem by ditching plates that were fine for partisan reasons, but they are in the business of creating problems, not fixing them. That will be left for the next government in 2022, who hopefully will be good enough to be able to accomplish something as simple as making license plates that can be seen. You’d think that wouldn’t need to be said, but in Ontario in 2020, it’s become clear that we can’t take those things for granted.