An MPP that Chooses to Disagree with Doug Ford is usually moved to a corner seat in the back row of the Legislature

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

November 18th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Will we soon be known as the peacock province? A province of many colours, political ones that is.

Rumour is that there may be a new provincial party on the horizon, the Blue party. And why not? There is already a Green Party, Liberals have always been identified as reds and the NDP orange.

So what does this mean for the governing Doug Ford provincial Tories? They are supposed to be the blue party, claiming to be descendants from the former premier Bill Davis’ Big Blue Machine. Heck Mr. Ford even started turning our licence plates blue.

Belinda K - booted outof PC caucus

Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalio

But Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios doesn’t think Ford’s crowd is blue enough. She was kicked out of Doug Ford’s caucus last July for refusing to support his Bill 195, the so-called emergency law on COVID. She knew this so-called emergency legislation was just a power grab by Ford so he could ram his retro agenda down our throats.

Being able to act without challenge is every tyrant’s dream. Not that I’d call our PM a tyrant, but Mr. Trudeau tried something similar in Ottawa, only to be stopped by an observant media and an wide-awake opposition party. Not so in Toronto. An Act to enact the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Re-sponse to COVID-19) Act, 2020 allows the government of Premier Doug Ford to extend or amend emergency orders a month at a time for up to two years without consulting the legislature.

For Karahalios this was an “unnecessary overreach” taking away “the legislature’s ability to vote on the use of extraordinary emergency powers on Ontarians for the next year… Bill 195 essentially silences every single Ontario MPP on the most important issue facing our legislature today”.

nurse-1950

A government that attempt to stiff nurses usually regrets the decision.

The Nurses Association (ONA) and other labour organizations are upset to say the least. The premier has given himself the power to override existing labour legislation and collective agreements. It is no secret that Mr. Ford regards organized labour as the enemy, but antagonizing Ontario’s front line work-ers in this time of the COVID epidemic is totally uncalled for. One might think that America’s Mr. Trump had shifted his residence into the premier’s office at Queen’s Park.

Well except that Karahlios doesn’t think Ford is far enough to the right. She thinks he’s not blue enough to represent real conservative-minded voters like her – claiming Ford has moved to the political left and is now in common territory with the other main Ontario parties. So one has to wonder what it takes to make one a real conservative.

Was it the deficit? Conservatives have long opposed budgetary deficits, except when they get into office, as was the case with former PM Mulroney. And even Mr. Harper ran record deficits during 2009-2011 period in an effort to stimulate a recessionary economy. So would it be fair to attack Mr. Ford’s record setting COVID deficit and use that to boot him out of the conservative club.

Fird money in your pocket

The issue for Doug Ford has always been money.

And surely Ford qualifies when it comes to tax cuts for the wealthiest, perhaps the most common of currencies among conservatives. His carefully camouflaged middle income tax cuts have turned out to be a Trojan horse, as predicted, and a bonanza for the wealthiest. The provincial Financial Accountability Office (FAO) has calculated that Doug Ford’s tax breaks are benefiting Ontario’s highest earners. “The top 20 per cent, with incomes over $123,400, are getting 43 per cent of tax benefits, including 75 per cent of deductions, which adds up to over $7 billion every year.”

When it comes to the environment the ultra conservative former PM, Mr. Harper, pulled Canada out of the international Kyoto agreement on climate change and pursued a fossil fuel agenda as Conservative PM. If that is real conservatism then Mr. Ford certainly qualifies as well, having mothballed almost all of Ontario’s emission reduction programs including renewable energy projects. Further he has sued the federal government over imposition of the national carbon tax.

And now the second shoe is dropping as he moves to further please the land development and other business lobbies who seem to have captured his attention. Ford’s most recent retro-legislative initiative, Bill 229, attacks the historical role of conservation authorities in land use planning, one of their primary purposes since their establishment back in 1946, by then PC Premier George Drew. What could be more conservative than conservation?

So it’s uncertain just where and how far Karahalios would like to see Mr. Ford go to prove he is a real conservative? He is already on a clear path to eliminate everything represented by the word progressive in Progressive Conservative. Ford has turned the clock back three or four decades in many regards and especially the environment. And that will create a headache for the next government which will have to clean up the mess.

Perhaps there is more to this story? After all it is no secret that Belinda’s husband, Jim Karahalios, a long time deep Tory, had tried on more than one occasion to become a party president for either/both the federal and provincial parties, only to be foiled by some kind of alleged intra-party conspiracy. It’s easy to see how that can make one bitter and twisted.

In fact he sued the federal party at one point and won. And of course, there is no better way to win friends and influence people than with a law suit. So perhaps this plan to hatch a new Blue party is a case of sour grapes, or even revenge to draw right wing voters away from Mr. Ford’s party. Splitting the right even more beyond the Heritage, Libertarian, Family Coalition fringe party platforms might be a more serious threat.

And unlike these two bit political efforts, the Blue’s would have a seat in the house (Cambridge) at least until the next election. And Jim, who was the creative genius behind ‘Axe the Tax’ anti-carbon tax campaign, presumably is qualified in Belinda’s mind and has the chops to help her lead her new Blue party.

It could happen. After all, Preston Manning’s Reform Party grew almost overnight to become Her Maj-esty’s Loyal Opposition after a lot of conservatives felt Kim Campbell wasn’t quite blue enough for them. It was an act of courage to stand apart from the familiar crowd of mindless desk-thumping seals at Queens Park and speak up when something stinks. And on that note she deserves a vote of appreciation.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

 

 

Background links

Blue Party –    Nurses Association –   FAO –    Bill 229

 

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