TORONTO - The Election 2018 kicks off today with a reading of the Speech from the Throne (SFT). For those who follow statecraft, the SFT is the is Government’s plan for the upcoming session of Parliament – Legislature in this case.
It contains the basis for the Legislative Agenda that will unveil the proposals (Bills) to solve what ails the Province.
Normally, an SFT is prepared following an election or mid-term after the Legislature has been “shut down”. When the latter happens, all Bills “die on the order paper”; although, they can be re-introduced at their point of progress at the pleasure of the Government.
These are not normal times. And, for “those at the top”, politics can be a gruelling business.
It would appear that Premier has had enough of the hyperbolic accusations of corruption, incompetence and disinterest in the livelihood of her fellow citizens in Ontario hurled at her direction by the “Johnny-come-lately”.
In a clever move, on Thursday, March 15, her government shut down the Legislature a month before it needed to do so – only to restart it today.
She will use the occasion to (1) review and repeat everything that her government has achieved in the last four years, and (2) “pre-announce” measures in the Budget scheduled for presentation in two weeks’ time.
The first will provide the talking points for her MPPs to “sell”, Province-wide. The second will allow her to set out her campaign platform, fully costed.
All of this with the legitimacy inherent in the approval by the Legislature, the only “certifiable voice” of the public.
The Opposition can always vote against both measures. It will, but not with enough votes to turf the Government. Since the Budget will likely contain specific measures identifying specific groups which will benefit, in addition to the macro “infrastructure” plans that move the Province forward, Opposition parties run the risk conveying the impression that they, themselves, are the proverbial “Dr. No.”
Doug Ford, PC Leader, unable to speak in the Legislative Assembly, countered with his own version of the “people’s will” – a political rally where he will speak to Party faithful (and Right-Wing Media outlets) gather to hear only one message: We good; Wynne bad!
There is no dialogue. It could still work.
In Italy, these comizi, demonstrations of populist strength, rally like-minded “troops” whose “minds are made up” but who relish listening to oratorical flights of political fantasy.
But this isn’t Italy, and there are few political personalities on the stage today (in Canada, let alone Ontario) who can wax with the eloquence of the most dullard of their Italian counterparts.
Anyway, Canadians prefer “the facts”, audited, as it were, in the Legislature.
To complicate matters, at least on the Conservative side, the Leader must overcome the damage (self-inflicted) of the most divisive and tumultuous leader-eviction and leader-replacement process in modern times.
The Party leadership circled the wagons and threw verbal daggers laced with accusations of dishonesty, rot and corruption at each other. The Party cannot even certify that the process was valid or that the declared victor is, in fact, the incontestable leader.
What Doug Ford has succeeded in doing, so far, is to project the impression that he “will take Ontario back” … to the past.
A past where the selling of controlled substances was in the “entrepreneurial types” and sex-ed the purview of the porno industry and sexual predators.
That’s not his intention. He will have to use the rally to reset the message for those who are not members of the PC Party.
He needs to act convincingly, otherwise the electorate may prefer to keep the “professional approach” to government offered by Premier Wynne or turn to the NDP Leader, Andrea Horwath.