Change Government, Change Masters, Change Culture

di Joe Volpe del August 17, 2018

TORONTO - Sometimes, governments get “set in their ways” and lose touch with the reality of life that the citizenry lives daily. Remember Kathleen Wynne? Such governments blather on about issues and processes, often confi dent – mistakenly - that their base is larger than it seems to everyone else. They propose “new” approaches that the “great unwashed” intuitively recognize as inane. The next thing one knows is that they are gone, swept away by the receding waters of the tsunami that annihilated their tenuous hold on power. Which Liberal speaks now for the socio-economic apparatus erected over the last 15 years in Ontario? Premier Doug Ford just adjourned the fi rst sitting of the Legislature under his tutelage. There is a “different air” about the province already. Too early to assess long-term, lasting, benefi ts to the average citizen but there are no credible voices offering alternative positions to the fl urry of initiatives rammed through the Legislature. Can it be that those impacted had such a narrow focus, such a superfi cial connection to the rest of us that no one expresses regret that a change is about to swallow the vestiges of the sand castles that preceded this Conservative government? Apparently so. Barely a hundred teacher-activists from a total of 124,000 (FTE) unionized teachers followed their Union leadership on the lawns of Queen’s Park to manifest – in a show of defi ance – their displeasure at the termination of the Health Curriculum introduced three years ago. They might have dressed professionally for the occasion. They could have recruited parents as allies in the cause. They could have done some advance work with the Ethnic Media and Press, which speaks to some 60% of the GTHA’s residents for support. They could have prepared some statistical tables documenting socio-scientifi c support for their claims … Even their allies in the Catholic community, the Catholic Schools Principals could only muster a feeble “we’re with you” abandonment of their previously intractable “moral position” on sex-ed. On governance, the Ford Administration preferred an axe to the scalpel in its surgery of GTHA city Councils and School Boards. The only people whining are some of he incumbents who now realize they need to demonstrate purpose in their roles that goes beyond simply keeping a job the public thinks is “cushy”. Premier Ford will not have hurt his government in announcing a hiring and salary freeze in senior or managerial public service or school board administrations. True or not, the public sees them as bloated and overpaid already. On Trade and Immigration - two issues where, in recent years, a “deferential Provincial government” has ceded to Federal leadership, Doug Ford has signalled a more aggressive approach by Ontario. It will be “all about the money” - and the burden to Ontario - that federal policies, unless they are clearly enunciated costed and justifi ed will impose on Ontario residents. Premier Ford appears to have assigned responsibility for Immigration Issues to a “Buzzsaw”, Minister Lisa Mc Leod, an Ottawa area MPP. She wants $200 million for the refugee mess that the Trudeau government has foisted on Ontario. The Federal Minister for refugees and Immigration has been removed from the Task Force on Refugees. No serious spokesperson on NAFTA negotiations has yet to surface from Ford’s Cabinet, even as the on-again, off -again with a truculent and whimsical US President appear to be taking a critical turn. The role will probably land on the Premier’s lap. For now, school communities, cannabis interests (remember when it was illegal?), municipal organization etc. may all “be in a tizzy” as the Legislature goes on a break for a month. People will line up as “winners or whiners” in tallying up the scorecard of Ford’s fi rst six weeks in o ce. The real test of the Ford government, however, will appear when the Legislature returns on September 24. We ‘ll see then if there is a real culture change in Ontario.

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