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MANTHA – the View from the Park

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They say that time flies when you’re having fun. If this adage is true, I must be having a blast. In the blink of an eye, I went from celebrating
Christmas to Ground Hog Day. To be sure, I am no different from any of Algoma–Manitoulin residents. We face the same daily challenges just
to get through this two-year-long pandemic, which is anything but fun.
One can’t help but notice the barrage of government news releases touting seemingly hundreds of last moment new programs and project
expenditures (which are often very subtly spread out over the next ten years). So the only other thing that could be causing time to fly for me is
that politicians are picking up on the scent of ‘eau d’élection’ in the air. Yes, I do confess to having the political gene in my DNA that enables
this ability.
People are beginning to ask already what will be the dominant issues in the upcoming spring election. In my mind, one of the critical issues will
be the leadership qualities demonstrated by the party leaders. I know that this sounds no different than most any election. But honestly, in my
view, leadership effectiveness, credibility, and integrity will be crucial factors in this election, more so than usual. And the reason for this is that
recent history shows a lack of these qualities.
For some time now, Ontarians have witnessed an erosive trend in the style, quality, and integrity of successive Conservative and Liberal
governments. It began as a snowball at the top of a hill, rolling slowly at first, then growing in size and speed in its descent. The snowball-turned
boulder has gotten to the point that it is causing permanent damage in every direction as time goes on. Voters need to do something to stop this
destructive force before this Province is decimated past the point of no return.
Think back to how Doug Ford kicked off his first days in office. Right away, he chose to embroil the Province in scandals, potential lawsuits and
court challenges.
As soon as he stepped into his new job as premier, Doug Ford could not resist the opportunity to settle some political scores with former rivals
at the municipal level. So in July of 2018, Ford announced that he was going to drastically reduce the size of Toronto’s city council by almost
half, from 47 to 25, just as the municipal election was gearing up. This infuriated Toronto voters and municipal leaders across the Province. It
was seen as ham-fisted interference by the government without public consultation.
When challenged on this decision, Ford even stooped so low as to say that he would utilize the Notwithstanding Clause of the Canadian Charter
of Rights, something that no Ontario premier has ever resorted to.
Then, right after that, there was the patronage fiasco when Ford fired former OPP Commissioner Brad Blair. Despite Ford’s denials, it was
because Blair stood up to him and called a spade a spade. Then Ford threw fuel on the fire by appointing his long-time friend Ron Taverner to
replace Blair. In addition to getting the dander of Ontarians up, it also exposed the Province to a potential $15 million lawsuit for wrongful
dismissal.
And these were just Ford’s opening acts.
To be sure, the Conservatives do not have a monopoly on a slippery slope of leadership deterioration. In the words of the late Mr. Rogers, “Can
you say gas plant scandal?” Remember when the previous Liberal government decided to cancel the construction of two natural gas power
plants in Mississauga and Oakville? At first, the people of Ontario were told they would be dinged with a $230 million cancellation penalty for
scrapping the plan. However, it was later discovered that the cancellation came about as a campaign promise made in exchange for support for
the Liberals in a 2011 election. Worse, upon scrutiny by the Auditor General, it was later revealed that the cost was actually $950 million.
So much for leadership integrity.
Upon hearing this news, Taras Natyshak, NDP Ethics and Accountability Critic, stated, “With the same band that gave Ontarians hits like the
gas plants scandal, the sell-off of hydro one, and twelve percent approval ratings, Liberal leader Steven Del Duca is telling Ontarians to expect
more of the same tired old Liberal song and dance this year. We can’t afford to give them an encore.”
Days ago, NDP Labour Critic Peggy Sattler pointed out that Ontarians are still paying the cost of decisions made by the Liberals to knowingly
override the collective bargaining rights of teachers and education workers by passing Bill 115. Sattler explained that the Liberals attacked and
undermined teachers and education workers by holding their wages back illegally. As a result, Ontario is now paying out another $103 million in
compensation for education workers on top of a $110 previously ordered by the courts.
And here is another nostalgic tidbit for readers. Liberal leader Steven Delduca recently announced that his party is getting some of the old gang
back in time to run in the next election:
• Don Guy – who engineered the gas plants plan to try and save liberal seats in the dying days of an election – no matter what it cost
• Dave Gene – who spent $10,000 to wipe computers and try to cover up evidence of Liberal corruption
• Bob Lopinksi – a liberal insider turned lobbyist who finds himself in the centre of scandal time and time again
In other words, Ontario can look forward to more of the same old same old if a Liberal government is elected.
Enough about days gone by? Then let’s look at what is happening under our Conservative government today.
Recently Minister of Health Christine Elliott told the people of Ontario that the government decided to allow individual school boards and health
care facilities to develop their own vaccination mandates. The reason for this, Elliott said, was that many hospitals across the Province had
opposed the government mandating vaccinations. But, then, just days ago, CBC Radio Canada revealed that there were not “many hospitals”
that objected, but rather only one hospital in the entire Province.
Doug Ford’s decision not to listen to hospitals and public health officials only served to embolden anti-vaxxers and increase the rampant chaos
Ontario is experiencing. NDP Health Critic France Gélinas said, “Thanks to Mr. Ford, the Province requires a vaccine certificate to eat a
hamburger in a diner in Ontario, but not to work in a pediatric intensive care unit with unvaccinated and incredibly vulnerable children. People
deserve better protection than that.
“Now that we have confirmation that nearly every hospital supports a vaccine mandate, let’s get that mandate in place right now for all health
care and all education workers — and let’s make all three doses currently available a part of that mandate, including booster shots.”
Is it just me, or does it seem like the Conservatives and Liberals are cut from the same cloth? Ontarians deserve affirmative, effective leadership
that shows genuine concern for people and demonstrates consistency and integrity. We don’t have to just settle for more of the same old same
old.
As always

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