Ford tar­geted, but NDP has tunnel vi­sion

PressReader - Tke Channel - Ford tar­geted, but NDP has tunnel vi­sion
To judge by the On­tario New Democrats’ per­for­mance in ques­tion pe­riod this week, the thing that mat­ters most in the prov­ince is the com­po­si­tion of Toronto’s city coun­cil.For­est fires are burn­ing barely checked in the north. The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives have torn up On­tario’s cli­mate-change plan. No­body knows what’s go­ing on with so­cial as­sis­tance and gov­ern­ment dis­abil­ity sup­ports. Ev­ery­thing’s wait­ing for a “lineby-line au­dit” of gov­ern­ment spend­ing that po­ten­tial au­di­tors have told the gov­ern­ment they might not be able to do in the time they have.But the NDP, feel­ing its oats as the of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion, got 32 chances to ask ques­tions of cab­i­net min­is­ters this week. New Demo­crat MPPs used 26 of those chances to ask the same thing again and again and again and again about Premier Doug Ford’s plan to cut the num­ber of city coun­cil­lors in Toronto from 47 to 25 and can­cel elec­tions for re­gional chairs in Peel, York, Ni­a­gara and Muskoka.“The premier’s se­cret plot to in­ter­fere in mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions is the act of a bully, not a leader. He never cam­paigned on it. He never con­sulted any­one on it, and now he has no man­date what­so­ever to in­flict his own will on the peo­ple of Toronto, Ni­a­gara, Peel, York and Muskoka with the most an­tidemo­cratic ac­tion that this prov­ince has seen in years. When did he de­cide to be a bully in­stead of a premier?” NDP Leader An­drea Hor­wath asked on Mon­day, lead­ing off the week.“Why didn’t the premier tell the peo­ple about his se­cret plan to rip up Toronto’s wards and can­cel re­gional elec­tions?” she asked in her first ques­tion Tues­day.“Why, through­out the en­tire elec­tion cam­paign, did the premier not once talk about his plan to rip up Toronto’s wards, can­cel re­gional elec­tions and take power away from mil­lions of vot­ers?” she asked Wed­nes­day, re­peat­ing her­self.“Why is this premier mak­ing it harder for ci­ti­zens to ac­cess their coun­cil­lors, harder for peo­ple of Toronto to have their voices heard?” Toronto NDP MPP Peter Tabuns led off on Thurs­day. Hor­wath held a “democ­racy rally” on the Queen’s Park lawn.Tues­day, the New Democrats used one ques­tion to ask why the Tories weren’t an­swer­ing their ques­tions. Wed­nes­day, af­ter So­cial Ser­vices Min­is­ter Lisa MacLeod an­nounced she’d halve a promised in­crease in wel­fare rates and pre­ma­turely end an ex­per­i­ment with a uni­ver­sal ba­sic in­come, the NDP broke the pat­tern, de­vot­ing only three of eight ques­tions to lo­cal elec­tions. Thurs­day, all eight of their ques­tions were about lo­cal elec­tions again. The leg­is­la­ture doesn’t sit on Fri­days, so that was it.What the Tories are do­ing to Toronto mat­ters. The com­po­si­tion of its city coun­cil wasn’t a provin­cial elec­tion is­sue at all, nor were the elec­tions for re­gional-gov­ern­ment chairs. Cam­paigns for the Oct. 22 vote had been run­ning for months. Lo­cat­ing and staffing polls, print­ing bal­lots, pro­gram­ming the count­ing ma­chines — it’s all but in­vis­i­ble if it’s done right, but do­ing it right takes months and months of labour. The peo­ple who do it say they don’t think they can run a proper elec­tion in the time that’s left.This is bad gov­ern­ing, and it sure looks like re­venge for Ford’s in­abil­ity to get elected mayor of Toronto, his late brother Rob’s in­abil­ity to be an ef­fec­tive mayor when he had the job and sab­o­tage for un­friendly politi­cians run­ning for re­gional chair jobs in Peel (Ford’s pre­de­ces­sor Pa­trick Brown and for­mer Lib­eral MPP Bob De­laney) and York (for­mer Lib­eral cab­i­net min­is­ter Steven Del Duca).But also tens of thou­sands of hectares of the prov­ince are lit­er­ally on fire thanks to drought and light­ning. What re­sources are be­ing brought to bear? Are they ad­e­quate? Min­is­ters say they’re wor­ried about cli­mate change — do they see any con­nec­tion be­tween it and these fires?Speak­ing of cli­mate change, the gov­ern­ment has promised a plan to re­place the cap-and-trade sys­tem for emis­sions it’s elim­i­nat­ing. By when? What ap­proaches are the en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter con­sid­er­ing ? What ju­ris­dic­tions are good mod­els?The so­cial ser­vices min­is­ter has promised “a thought­ful and re­spon­si­ble ap­proach” to end­ing the ba­sic-in­come pi­lot project. Par­tic­i­pants were ex­pect­ing to have sig­nif­i­cantly more in­come for the next three years than or­di­nary wel­fare would give them. What does “a thought­ful and re­spon­si­ble ap­proach” mean in real life?Kids go back to school in a month, school boards haven’t been told what health cur­ricu­lum they should teach, and a cou­ple of dozen boards are openly say­ing that if the ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter or­ders them to go back to 20-year-old ma­te­rial, they won’t. What will the gov­ern­ment do in that case?How’s the health min­is­ter’s re­view of the ev­i­dence on su­per­vised drug-in­jec­tion sites go­ing? What form is the re­view tak­ing — who specif­i­cally is do­ing it? Is there a dead­line for com­plet­ing it?Just how use­ful is a quickie su­per­fi­cial au­dit of gov­ern­ment spend­ing go­ing to be, any­way?The New Democrats are right, both on prin­ci­ple and as a mat­ter of po­lit­i­cal strat­egy, to press the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives on van­dal­iz­ing lo­cal elec­tions. Around the eighth or ninth time they got the premier to re­peat that no­body tells him they want more politi­cians, maybe it was time to make the gov­ern­ment an­swer for some­thing else.

NDP Leader An­drea Hor­wath has been bad­ger­ing Premier Doug Ford this week about his plans to cut in half the num­ber of Toronto coun­cil­lors and can­cel elec­tions for four re­gional chairs.

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