Does Doug Ford actually resemble old Dief the Chief in Canada, 1957–63, and not Donald Trump in USA today?

Apr 8th, 2018 | By Counterweights Editors | Category: In Brief

Doug Ford takes questions during pre-budget lock-up at Queens Park Legislature in Toronto, Wednesday, March 28, 2018. CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANADIAN PRESS.

The other night on TV the eminent and excellent CBC News poll analyst Éric Grenier advised that, based on current polling data, the coming June 7 election in Canada’s most populous province is “Doug Ford’s to lose.”

This has various people nervous, including us. However you look at it, the new provincial Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford is Ontario’s version of the right-wing populist crusade that Donald Trump speaks for in the USA right now.

This crusade also has various things to do with Brexit in the UK, the recent Italian elections,  and on and on, possibly even back to Narendra Modi’s (at least somewhat Hindu nationalist?) BJP government of the world’s largest democracy, in the modern Republic of India.

We strongly believe that repeating these right-wing-populist-in-power adventures north of the North American Great Lakes can serve no useful public purpose, and will certainly bring some real harm to the great majority of we the people of Ontario.

We who are writing this in particular live and work in Toronto — capital city of the Canadian Province of Ontario. (Canadian provinces are more or less comparable to American states, though Ontario has a larger budget than any state of the union except New York and California.).

For us the prospect that even former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s somewhat older and wiser brother Doug will be Premier of Ontario before the Summer Breeze starts to blow raises thoughts of moving to California, at least until Premier Ford self-destructs or otherwise leaves office.

Meanwhile, our counterweights colleague and eminence grise Randall White dropped around to the main office yesterday with the latest installment of his work-in-progress on the history of Canadian democracy, tentatively entitled Children of the Global Village — Canada in the 21st Century : Tales about the history that matters.

If you go to “Long Journey to a Canadian Republic” on the bar above (or just CLICK HERE), you will find a short introduction to the democratic Dr. White’s project, along with the “Prologue : too much geography.”

This is followed by links to the currently completed six chapters in Part I, four  chapters in Part II, and the first five chapters in Part III on the old Dominion of Canada. You will now find as well a link to the final Chapter 6 in Part III  : “Democracy in the Dominions, 1948–1963.”

After a few words in the office, we caught up somewhat later with Dr. White and his irresistible business manager at the Tim Horton’s across from Kew Gardens, to hear a possibly less bleak and daunting theory of Doug Ford in Ontario in 2018.

Prime Minister Diefenbaker, 1957-1963.

White’s latest chapter of the Children of the Global Village project, he noted, ends with the 13th prime minister of the 1867 confederation in Canada, John George Diefenbaker from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. And there are a few things that Diefenbaker in the 1950s and 1960s and Doug Ford today have in common.

They are both Progressive Conservative populist leaders. And no one talked about a “Diefenbaker Nation” back then, but Dief the Chief certainly had one. (You can read all about it  in “Democracy in the Dominions, 1948–1963.”)

Diefenbaker had problems actually governing, that Dr. White thinks could eventually befall Premier Doug Ford in Ontario as well. But in the end, we asked, does Dr. White think Doug Ford may actually be more like Diefenbaker back then than like Donald Trump today?

He just laughed and said “No … whatever the other similarities Diefenbaker was progressive in a way Doug Ford has shown no serious signs of being yet. And he was not the same knee-jerk, open-for-business, free-market salesman Doug Ford is. Rob Ford may have done Trump before Trump, but Doug Ford is finally just imitating Trump — and he’s nowhere near as rich.”

Scene of the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash on Friday, April 6, 2018, on the way to a game with the Nipawin Hawks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

(Later White phoned in a final note about John Diefenbaker from Prince Albert. Were he alive today, the 13th prime minister of Canada would be deeply distressed by the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash on Friday, April 6, on the way to a game with the Nipawin Hawks in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The RCMP has now confirmed 15 fatalities and more than a dozen other injuries. Somewhere out among the stars the heart of the late populist Prime Minister Diefenbaker is feeling the pain of his friends, neighbours, and fellow citizens in 2018.)

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