This weekend was a very cathartic time for many of us in Ontario. Between Doug Ford’s flailing on Friday night, to the smoke pouring out of the Premier’s office on the weekend & the growing feeling of anger from most Ontarians towards this government in this moment of crisis, it’s been a lot. With the Ford Governments desire to shut down Queen’s Park, it felt like a good time to do something I honestly haven’t done in a long time; watch Ontario’s Question Period.
After everything that happened this weekend, you’d think that there might be a change in direction or something like that. Heck, if not now, when right? So I decided to take the plunge and tune into proceedings and see for myself if Doug Ford would come in contrite and change his tune. So what’s the verdict on that? Here’s the evidence:
Yep folks, that was a depressing hour or so out of my day. For starters, Premier Ford didn’t even dare to show his face in the Chamber, leaving it to Health Minister Christine Elliott and his Government House Leader Paul Calandra to “answer” questions sent the governments way. I put answer in quotations because there really weren’t many of those, especially from Calandra who earn his buck-passing stripes while being in the Harper Government in Ottawa. But we’ll come back to that in a moment. Maybe the most important thing happened before Question Period, when Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath rose to try to help make the situation better. Here is how that played out:
Yeah, Horwath tried to get unanimous consent for a raft of measures that are needed right now, including many that were called for by the Premier’s science advisory table. And with every single one, the Ford Conservatives refused. Paid sick leave? Refused. Paid leave to get vaccinated? Nope. Shutting down non-essential workplaces? No way buddy! Cancelling the new powers given to the police? Not gonna happen! All of it, over and over, shot down in a cavalier way with no apparent shame in doing so. But once Question Period started what exactly did the Ford government have to say for all of this? How did they respond to the hard questions for botched response? Sadly in the most predictable manner:
Maybe I was being naïve, or maybe after the weekend that we just had I was too optimistic that something might have broken through with these guys. But nope, nothing has and in the world of the Ford Government, nothing seems to have changed. Through out Question Period Calandra kept trying to frame the “real problem” as being two things; not enough vaccines & people flying into Ontario bringing variants. Yes, we need more vaccines, but Ontario isn’t even getting the ones they have into peoples’ arms, so the “not enough vaccines” isn’t the issue here. Nor is the “protect the borders” stuff, as the publicly available figures on transmission of COVID show that the very small number of our cases are coming directly from travel, either International or from other provinces. The Premier’s own science table has said similar things. Yet Calandra and the PC caucus are sticking to this BS story, trying to lay the blame at Ottawa for not getting them enough vaccines and for not “being tough” on the border.
It all makes you wonder how bad this might get and how much worse it could all end up being, all because this government refuses to listen to the experts. If makes you wonder where their minds are at through it all. Are the worried about public health or the politics? I think that answer is increasingly clear and if you wanted more proof of this, just note what Premier Ford has planned for his Thursday night, which if he gets his way, would be after he suspends Queen’s Park:
Yep, a $1,000 a seat “Zoom” fundraising event, or as the event posting calls it, a discussion with Doug Ford on “the issues facing our province during these challenging times and what our government is doing to help”. So instead of listening to the experts and doing what needs to be done, Premier Dougie is going to do a big fundraiser and tell people everything he’s doing to not listen to the experts (while saying he is), at $1,000 bucks a pop. And for the cherry on that crap sundae, you can even see the links to two online petitions calling for people to support “Scrapping the Carbon Tax” and “Securing our borders”. Even the language used in them could very well be the sprinkles to spread on top. Seriously, check these out:
I personally can’t stand political spin when it’s so blatantly fact-free. Lines like “after months of pleading with the federal government to take action and secure our borders, we are still seeing tens of thousands of travelers enter our airports and communities without any quarantine enforcement or rapid testing” are prime examples, because they’re demonstrably false. If you believed this, you’d think that so much of our COVID problem was based on travelers from everywhere coming to Ontario and then getting all in everyone’s faces, never quarantining or anything like that. Of course, that wouldn’t be the case, as anyone who has gone through the quarantine hotel experience could tell you. Of course, that also ignores the numbers that again show that so few of our cases come from travelers.
They do the same thing with carbon pricing, writing that “in the middle of a pandemic, the federal Liberal government chose now to increase their carbon tax to $170 per tonne by 2030” and that “in the middle of a pandemic, they’re making life more expensive.” Yep, that’s the messaging of a government that doesn’t have their eyes on the ball. That’s the messaging of a governing party with their eyes somewhere else entirely.
So yeah, instead of facing the truth and doing what needs to be done, the Ford Conservatives continues to blame others, spin like crazy, and raise money for an election that’s over a year away. Long story short, if we thought that the Ford Conservatives might have had an epiphany after what happened this weekend, we thought wrong. There is no shame in their game and instead of back down from their failed approach, they are doubling down, again. They’ve lost the plot, totally and completely. In the meantime, we’re all left out here to look for someone to step up to do the responsible things that are needed. That should be our provincial government at Queen’s Park, but they’re apparently otherwise occupied, leaving us all to wonder Hell must befall us before they finally change course and do the right things.