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Francophone cuts expose cracks in Conservative caucus

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The Conservative cracks are starting to show says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, after a Francophone PC backbencher spoke out this week against her own party and its leader Doug Ford.

This comes in the wake of the government’s decision to cancel plans for a French-language university and its move to scrap the office of Ontario’s French-language Commissioner.

“Looks like trouble in paradise for Ford,” said Thomas. “The cracks in this government’s phony veneer are starting to show. We already knew he doesn’t listen to the people, but this goes to show that he doesn’t even listen to his own caucus members.

“It’s no great surprise that with Dean French calling all the shots at Queen’s Park, Ford is throwing his support at the wrong kind of French,” said Thomas. “These guys don’t care about minority rights or the people; it’s all about the bottom line for them. Another promise made, promise broken.”

Franco-Ontarians are the latest group in a growing list under attack by Ford and his cluster of cronies, says Hervé Cavanagh, chair of OPSEU’s Francophone Committee.

“Francophones aren’t the first group on Ford’s hit list,” said Cavanagh. “Just look at his track record: scrapping the Child Advocate and the expert roundtable to end violence against women, going after gender identity, Sex Ed, labour standards and ODSP. It’s all part of a bigger plan to pay for whopping tax cuts for his friends on the backs of minorities and the most vulnerable people in our province.

“It’s easy to pick on people who you think can’t defend themselves,” said Cavanagh. “But to attack people in the name of fiscal responsibility is crooked and dangerous. This government is saying that Francophone rights just aren’t important enough, while Caroline Mulroney – the Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs – is nowhere to be found. If you ask me, Ford chose the wrong “F” word for his slogan.” 

Thomas took issue with the government’s framing of the cuts in the name of spending constraints, pointing to the government’s own figures. Last week, the PCs used the Fall Economic Statement as an opportunity to brag about cutting $3.2 billion in spending, while only knocking half a billion off the provincial deficit.

“It doesn’t take a genius to do the math on that one,” said Thomas. “Ford and his gaggle are handing out $2.7 billion dollars in tax breaks, while they go on about fiscal responsibility. Those aren’t savings for the people, they’re whopping cash handouts for the wealthy, and they come at a cost for us little guys. Losing the French-language university is an unsettling example of that cost.

“Handing out billions doesn’t look like spending constraint to me,” said Thomas. “But this isn’t about spending, it’s about priorities, and Ford’s priority is to subsidize the rich, at a steep cost to the rest of us. It’s why we’ve got to rally together. They’re trying to divide and conquer us; to pick us off group by group. But all they’ve done is ignite our solidarity. In less than six months, the tide has already started to turn against this government, and we’re here to keep that momentum up; to fight fire with fire, for the people.”