It’s like bad TV – provincial politics that are perpetually stuck on reruns. After two months of Ford Nation, it looks like we’re in for more of the same.
It’s what I call the political wash cycle, we just rinse and repeat. We elect the Liberals, and they wipe out what the Conservatives have done. Then, when we get sick of the scandals, cuts, and corruption we turn to the Conservatives, who wipe out what the Liberals have done. Then we rinse and repeat again.
It’s no wonder things never seem to get better. It’s no wonder costs are rising, while wages stagnate, and it’s no wonder that costly privatization schemes continue to run rampant.
Even with a majority, these Liberal and Conservative governments rarely get more than 50 per cent of the popular vote. They get in, they ignore the interests of the true majority of people, and begin to issue edicts as if chosen by divine right.
It’s a cyclical game, and it’s no wonder it makes us all sick of politicians; it’s no wonder we see them as suspect characters, because that’s exactly how they behave.
If they’re always undoing what’s been done, is there ever any progress made? With this style of ‘politics of vengeance,’ it’s always one step forward and two steps back, and it must stop.
There’s an old saying that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We’re witnessing what Ford has chosen to do with his power in just two months. He’s issued decrees to freeze public sector hiring, to meddle in municipal elections and cut Toronto City Council in half, and to privatize the sale of cannabis.
Ford campaigned to govern “for the people” but what I think he meant was “for his own people” – like former Tory staffers who stand to make a killing off corner store cannabis.
After fifteen years of Liberal rule, Ford’s out for his pound of flesh. What Ontario needs is an ounce of common sense – but not the kind of “common sense” the Tories gave us in the 90s.
With a federal election coming up next year, all eyes will be turning to Ontario’s premier for a taste of the Conservative brand. If I could give some friendly advice to Ford, I’d remind him that Ontarians – like the vast majority of Canadians – prefer a balanced approach, and that his ideological extremism is a surefire way to sour the Conservative brand federally and provincially in four years’ time.
Perhaps the outcome of past premiers like David Peterson and Kathleen Wynne will serve as fair warning about the perils of absolute power, and what a sharp turn in public opinion can mean for anyone in Ford’s position.
Perhaps instead of perpetuating the wash cycle that is provincial politics, Premier Ford would be wise to retire the old political playbook, and explore a new approach. My door’s always open, and I’m more than willing to help with that.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union