Ontario Election 2018

A Sad Day for Ontario

Doug Ford won the election with a lazy, scandal-ridden campaign fueled by lies and cheap slogans. No one, not even Conservatives, should be particularly happy about this.

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 08, 2018

Despite a scandal-ridden moral shambles of an election campaign, Doug Ford will be Ontario's next Premier and the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party will form a majority with 76 seats. There will be plenty of time for postmortems, recriminations, analyzing and strategizing in the coming days, but for now my overwhelming feeling is sadness.

I feel sad for the one and a half million Ontario workers who are paid the minimum wage and will no longer receive a badly-needed pay increase next January - nor, realistically, any time in the next four years.

I feel sad for families with young children who struggle to pay for childcare and will no longer see the relief they were promised.

I feel sad for everyone who lacks drug coverage for their prescribed medications, who must sometimes choose between medical care and paying rent or buying groceries. We had a chance to close a serious gap in Ontario's public health care system, and chose to leave it gaping.

I feel sad for public service workers who must now be waiting for the other shoe to fall in the form of pay cuts, job losses and privatization. And I feel sad for the Ontarians who depend on those essential public services.

I feel sad for women who must now be governed by a sexist bully who calls women he doesn't like "little bitch" and told a pregnant reporter to get off her "lazy ass". Given his pattern of abusive misogyny, it's no surprise that a staggering 59 percent of women recently surveyed rated him zero out of ten on trustworthiness.

I feel sad for immigrants, refugees and people of colour, who will have to live with a bigger risk of harassment and assault in Doug Ford's Ontario, now that his pandering to white supremacists has been validated and the haters who support him can crawl further out into the open.

I feel sad for everyone who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer, who have already been demonized through Ford's transparently homophobic attacks against Ontario's new health curriculum and will find life becoming more dangerous in Ford's Ontario.

Likewise, I feel sad for children who deserve to learn about their bodies, their rights and their responsibilities to each other through a dignified, evidence-based sex education program. Instead, their schooling will be hijacked into an ugly wedge to pander to bigots.

I feel sad for people on Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program, who are prime targets for a government looking to "find efficiencies" by squeezing public spending. The last PC government ruthlessly cut social assistance by 21 percent, and we should not expect any better from this one.

I feel sad for municipal councils, who should start bracing for austerity measures in the form of reduced transfer payments and downloaded obligations. I feel sad for everyone who pays property tax, i.e. everyone, and for the municipal leaders who will be pressured to squeeze ratepayers to cover the shortfall.

I feel sad for Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne, two incredibly strong, intelligent, hard-working women who were always prepared to explain their platforms in detail and answer tough questions. They lost to an unqualified bully who barely understands the issues and coasted through the campaign on a lazy fog of lies and cheap slogans. Horwath and Wynne were held to unforgiving standards while Ford was graded on a curve. I can't think of a more poignant example of straight white male privilege.

I feel sad for the decent, respectable members of the Ontario PC Party, many of whom are likely feeling ambivalent right now about their leader. They may be telling themselves that they can moderate him or that he will grow into the job. They can't and he won't. Doug Ford is a dignity wraith who will debase and humiliate everyone who works for him.

I feel sad for every young person who rejected apathy and cynicism, swam against the demographic current and cast a vote for a more hopeful future. I hope this outcome does not convince them that voting is a waste of time.

There will be Serious People who will wag their fingers and say, "In a democracy the voter is always right." I disagree. In a democracy, the voter has the right to be wrong.

Notwithstanding our antiquated first-past-the-post voting system, in which a party that received 40.63 percent of the popular vote won 61 percent of the seats, Ontario voters made the wrong choice.

We will have the next four years to reflect on that choice as Ford and his cruel government roll back the modest improvements in fairness achieved over the past 15 years, lurch from scandal to scandal, and further coarsen our already-ugly political discourse with Trump-style right-wing populist attacks on journalists and political enemies.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By SusanHill (registered) | Posted June 08, 2018 at 20:31:36

Well said Ryan, but it just made me cry. It is indeed very sad that Ontarians who were so appalled by Trump, and couldn't believe people could fall for the basket of lies he spewed, fell for Doug Ford. Does no one read a newspaper or do any critical thinking anymore?

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By Dylan (registered) | Posted June 09, 2018 at 08:36:57

I agree with everything you said. But I also feel sad for the millions of good people that voted for the PCs that are now labelled by the left as ignorant, brutish, buffoons, because we don’t agree with their political priorities. Ford, Trump, and other populist voters are not typically hate filled people. They’re not really angry about progressivism, they’re angry that progressives preach about gender identity while their middle class families are seeing less and less income versus the cost of living every year. Middle of the road voters, the majority of the population, need to be given a better option than a right wing populist and a left of centre candidate that seems to be out of tune with their primary concerns in life.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 09, 2018 at 10:57:40 in reply to Comment 123040

Dylan's comment should be taken seriously. Even though I don't participate in frequent conversation on this site anymore, I did visit for election coverage because the posts and essays are useful. Doubling down on the very language that made even left leaning people like myself decide that their own team has gone insane, is not going to be productive, and will increase polarization further. Given how much this hysteria is fueled by education and media makes me wonder how much is deliberately fomented. But it is true, the "deplorables" are ordinary hard working people, who are not as stupid as you think, who are creeped out by government overreach and inappropriate attempts at social engineering, while more relevant issues go unsolved. That's why leading up to the election, I was having drinks and conversations with NDP card carrying neighbours, who voted for Doug because they perceived a rather unusual situation this time around. I will add that based on my own experience and observation, progressivism appears to be turning into a religion with some characteristics of a cult, where everyone not sufficiently zealous is some kind of "ist" or "phobic" and subject to derision and even inquisition, like Lindsay Sheppard for example. And a reactionary populism risks becoming a reciprocal of the same religious cult like myopia. This is no good for anyone.

And I say this tempered with general agreement on most progressive causes - everyone should be able to access opportunity and fully participate in the society and economy regardless of background or other factors. I still cycle to work, support green belt protection, want a hydrogen powered GO corridor, want any remaining gaps in the human rights code resolved, support UBI, and would certainly address someone however they wished to be addressed (within polite reason). Please win back the members of your own team who felt an urgency to act as ballast and voted contrary to how we normally would, by toning down the rhetoric about how evil populism is. This comment is my heartfelt appeal for people to cool down and actually start listening to each other again.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2018-06-09 10:59:25

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 11, 2018 at 06:17:20 in reply to Comment 123041

Ah yes, the topsy-turvy world of right-wing identity politics, where people who didn't help elect bigots have to worry about offending people who did.

As far as I can see, no one is claiming every PC voter is misogynist, xenophobic and terrible at math. It's obvious that there were a variety of reasons for people to vote PC: the chief reason is that most people, most of the time, don't pay much attention to the issues and just vote for their party because that's what they've always done.

This is why I have been trying to warn so strenuously over the past couple of years against the hijacking of traditional conservative parties by dangerous right-wing populists like Trump and Ford - most voters simply don't notice that something important has changed.

It didn't help that the news media graded Ford on a curve, exactly the same as they graded Trump on a curve in 2016, and Ford's hardcore base of actual right-wing bigots who comprise a nontrivial segment of his supporters were very highly motivated to spread as much disinformation, noise and mythology as possible in order to confuse people who were less engaged in the finer details of the election. So the NDP were recast as "dangerous radicals" when their platform was at best mildly progressive (the vast majority of OECD countries already have universal dental care, pharmacare and affordable childcare programs - Canada is a libertarian outlier heavily influenced by the USA).

If people need to start listening to each other, where is the expectation on conservative voters that they should start actually paying attention to what their own leaders are saying and doing?

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2018-06-11 10:39:35

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 10, 2018 at 10:26:15

It is mathematically impossible for Doug Ford to keep his election promises to cut taxes but not spending while eliminating the deficit. So it will be interesting to watch him repudiate those promises. I see that this process has already begun. From The Toronto Star at:

https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/...

“I always keep my promises,” said Ford. “We aren’t going to flip-flop.” He added one caveat, however: “First of all, we have to look at the books.”

One of the oldest political tricks is for a new government to say: "Now that we have had a chance to look at the books, we found out that the previous government messed things up so bad that we cannot implement our promises."

Of course, the public accounts are openly published and audited by the Auditor-General. So just what exactly is there to be found?

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2018-06-10 10:28:13

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