The PC government caucus in Ontario apparently has ceased pretending to be a repository of thought, critique and healthy representation of the public’s interest. Premier Doug Ford, who has not distinguished himself as one who tolerates differences of opinion, unceremoniously stripped one of his MPPs, Roman Baber, of his Legislative position on the Justice Policy Committee and exited him from caucus. Baber cannot seek re-election in the next go-round.
What did he do that was so wrong to deserve such treatment, you ask? In a thoughtful, researched, letter (as one might expect from a trained, practicing, lawyer) he questioned the data cited for the “wisdom” of our current lockdown. The “medicine” is worse than the disease, he posited.
He is swimming against the current – even as some/many might agree with the basic arguments in his letter: that the “experts” (or the consultants shaping their messaging) cannot seem to agree one day to the next on the interpretation, or quality, of the data they use to “inform” the Premier. The result is an on-going perplexity over “what to do next”.
It does not matter if you are in long-term care, in school, in a small business environment, in the restaurant industry… the list goes on… how many changes to “strategy to beat this thing” have you changed?
Baber’s constituency of York Centre is dominated by a demographic richly reflective of Italian, Pilipino, Jewish, Russian, Afro-Canadian and Hispanic residents. Their MPP simply asked if the strategy of hand cleansing, mask wearing, distance observing has not worked so far, what have we learned about the disease and, more importantly, how to combat it?
CARP, an organization representing Seniors’ interests, has, for months, been highlighting the death rate – “due to Covid-19” - in Long Term Care homes. Depending on the quality of reporting, that fatality rate is somewhere beyond 62% in Ontario, among those infected. Here, as elsewhere, addressing the issues associated with aggregation of the elderly, especially those with pre-existing conditions, would make sense. CARP has been calling for the resignation of the Minister responsible, Merrilee Fullerton, in an aggressive Media campaign.
If there is someone in the province who is convinced that the “weathervane policies” from the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, make sense, they do not have children in school, are not required to care for children and hold down a job at the same time or somehow think this last year will be a classic example of Ontario’s performance in educational standards.
Hence Baber’s understandable frustration. Premier Ford’s response? “How dare you not tow the Party line? Good-bye!” That is the approach the Baber family thought they left behind when they emigrated from an authoritarian Russian system in 1988.