Pandemic Politics In Ontario

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So it’s no secret my politics lean to the Left.

It’s also no secret that we have a government in Ontario that leans pretty hard to the Right. Not as far as one or two of the other provincial governments in Canada and certainly not as far as significant portions of the US these days, but definitely farther than normal for Ontario.

You probably won’t be surprised that doesn’t make me happy.

It’s frequently said that in a parliamentary system, governments don’t get voted in so much as they get voted out.

Before the last election, Ontario, on balance, was unhappy with the performance of the Liberal Party who had, to be fair, had too long a run of power in the province without adequate opposition. That’s why we have a Conservative government now. Not because we thought they were going to do a better job, but because enough people were sick of the Liberals and the Conservative leader looked like he could not-Liberal harder than the NDP Leader. That’s all.

Collectively, due to a broken electoral system, we handed them a majority. 40% of the popular vote on a 57% turnout to give them 61% of the seats in the Legislature. Things never add up in a two-party system with more than two parties in it, but that’s something for another post.

Under the auspices of that not-Liberal leader, the Conservatives immediately rolled back a whole bunch of things that were designed to help people rather than business, cut budgets to every social program they could see, congratulated themselves on how good they were at government, and told the rest of us to stop whining and suck it up.

And long came COVID.

Initially, I was pleasantly surprised that the crisis turned Doug Ford into something like a human being and one trying to drag the rest of his party along with him. Now, I think that was as much because he had a personal stake in things (his mother-in-law) as it was trying to step up after the realization he had to do more than just not be Kathleen Wynne for the rest of his term and coast through to re-election based on that.

Yes, his government has followed health guidelines as they’ve received them, but slowly dragging their heels and only really enforcing things when they think they really have to.

Then there’s the constant politicization. Lots of variations on, “I inherited this, but the buck stops here.” He’s still blaming everyone else for everything that’s wrong. And he’s including people who aren’t part of the political process, too. Union leaders and unnamed Medical Officers of Health (who “know who they are”) to pick two. We get it. You don’t think it’s your fault. Shut up about whose fault you think it is and get stuff done.

And the false shock at the condition of long-term care facilities in Ontario irritates me. That the system was overcrowded and underfunded should not have been a surprise. He would have had reports. He must have known something because he actually split the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care into two ministries. And the current inspection regime, the one his government instituted, is risk-based. Things aren’t a problem until they’re a problem. Not enough inspections were being done when his government took over, so the solution was to do no inspections until someone officially complained.

He keeps making threats, and mainly empty ones, about how people will be sorry if they don’t do what he wants them to do. Right, why work with the Feds and other relevant parties to figure out why things aren’t working. Sheesh, even just set out some expectations.

The testing regime which has been a complete flop anywhere having a serious outbreak because no one seems to actually be watching it or caring how many tests get done or where.

The 27% hike in the standard hydro rate we had at the beginning of June.

The wasted extended March break where the province came up with nothing to help teachers and students finish the year even though they knew they wouldn’t be sending kids back to school at the end of that three weeks.

The quietly moving on their political agenda anyway even though we have this wonderful climate of difficulty in accountability.

Okay, time to stop ranting.

Overall, I think the Premier has provided inconsistent messaging, regularly contradicting the ministers and experts he brings out to speak at things, and generally not taking the lead on things. Not only is Ontario lagging behind other provinces on measures and recovery, up until the last week it’s been catching up to Quebec which has a whole different set of problems and idiots in power.

To me, it feels like he’s skating by on the bare minimum to be perceived as competent and it’s mostly working for him. He seems to say enough of the right words, and it’s good that he’s more or less getting along with the Federal government, but is he actually doing a good job?

That’s a hard question to answer until I remember that the bar for good government is currently being set by Trump.

Stay safe and be well, everyone.

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