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Minister Phillips’ Explanation for Retiring:
“Ma Chi Ca*** Me Lo Fa Fare?”

TORONTO – That sums up the reason(s) why now former Minister Phillips called it quits. There is no elegant way to translate this idiomatic Italian expression of frustration with what is taking place. But one can fill in the blanks with readily available pedestrian/coachman expletives and probably “be on the money”.

Rod Phillips was a “money man”, bred in the boardrooms of the province, concerned with macro-economic issues. From what I knew of his public persona, he tended to project a rather patrician demeanour, yet uncomfortable in expressing a sense of public purpose that seemed to be at the core of his concept of civic obligation.

The current comedic confusion spreading throughout his government would surely have caused him to turn to Italian idioms for guidance.

The problem with idiomatic expressions is that they contain rhetorical questions. One turns to them because one already knows the answer and the exercise is a last -ditch effort to avoid “jumping ship”.

Who can blame him? Place yourself in his position around a Cabinet table and making life and death decisions for 14, 500,000 of your fellow citizens during the most critical peacetime crisis in the history of Ontario. It is serious. In the last two years, more than 10,000 deaths (Ontario only) have been attributed to the ravages of a virus everyone had been told was coming.

As Phillips’ stand-in you would have had to deal with: (1) a Premier whose approach to decision-making appears “erratic” at the best of times and who has resigned himself to a subordinate, beggar’s, position vis à vis the federal government, (2) under-employed University statisticians who profess to design the most bullet-proof models to help him predict trajectories of virus incursions (so far, they appear to have over-charged for their comic relief because reputable international organizations make them available publicly; the Corriere has adapted a user-friendly paradigm from them for its readership), (3) there are 52 “experts” on the Science Table, along with a further 82 on four Committees, [competing] with any number of Public Health Officials, Ministry Personnel, political staff and outside expertise to advise him/you on what to do.

Would you be confused? Your predecessor, a medical doctor responsible for the “aging and dying” in Long-Term Care centres, virtually disappeared as more than 3,000 “old folks” died alone and in despair. Now those decisions are your legacy.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Education responsible for the province’s 4,900 Public and Catholic schools (according to Ontario Government websites), as well as their Private counterparts, has spent 18 months trying to figure out whether the roughly 2,000,000 students should stay home, go to school or… hey, what the heck the bubble-gum university that prepared him for life left this chapter out of the degree program. Now no one knows what will happen when school opens on the 17th (tomorrow).

Medical Services Unions and Associations are proving to be of little help to you. Like their counterparts in the Teaching profession, they washed their hands of the critical issues long ago. Their motto has morphed into “woe is us, just show us the money” culture of today. The only thing standing between you and political annihilation is a decidedly lacklustre Opposition in the Legislature.

June 2 is election day and just around the corner. What would you do? Jump ship now or “walk the plank” later.

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