Doug Ford will haunt Ontario until 2026 — when the real we the people who went to sleep in 2022 will wake up at last!!

Oct 9th, 2023 | By | Category: In Brief
Michael Seward, ‘Behold, the Man. 2023. Acrylic on canvas. Approx. 28” x 26”’.

SPECIAL FROM CITIZEN X, BUCKHORN, ON. 8/9 OCTOBER 2023 — CANADIAN THANKSGIVING. [UPDATED OCTOBER 10]. In my last appearance on this sideroad of the vast electronic highway in the 2020s I suggested : “As genuinely crazy as it may be, some sort of second American Civil War may also just be inevitable.”

That was back on March 19. As evidence that, six and a half months later, we are almost in the first stages of some kind of second American Civil War (albeit a mercifully non-violent one, so far) I submit the political struggles of early autumn 2023 in the United States … and Canada!

My meditations on Canadian Thanksgiving 2023 focus on the regional political regime where I live, in Canada’s most populous province.

I find myself dwelling on the Doug Ford (Nation) Ontario, that will remain in office some two and a half more years, whatever deepest flaws increasingly rise to the surface.

Ups and downs of Doug Ford who is not really like Donald Trump?

One excuse for the narrow interest here is that Premier Ford is sometimes seen as a regional variation on Donald Trump. And Mr. Trump has been freshly brought into the limelight by four court cases. (Finally … at last, but … well, maybe … and I certainly hope for the worst for the anti-democratic autocratic economic royalist Mr. Trump!)

At the same time, in fact Doug Ford is not an altogether serious regional incarnation of Donald Trump. (Even though Mr. Trump is on record in praise of the Ontario premier’s late brother, Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto 2010-2014.) And, unlike many mindless and radical right-wing conservatives, eg, Premier Doug Ford was no militant anti-vaxxer in the midst of COVID 19.

Most recently, according to the usual Angus Reid numbers on the subject, in September 2023 Premier Ford was both tied for the lowest provincial premier approval rating in Canada (with Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, subsequently defeated by Wab Kinew’s NDP in the interesting Manitoba provincial election on October 3, 2023), and at his own lowest rating (28%) since his first election as “Ontario PC” premier on June 7, 2018.

In December 2018 Doug Ford’s Angus Reid approval rating was 42% — just slightly more than the percentage of the Ontario popular vote he took when (thanks to the current “first-past-the-post” electoral system) his PCs won 61% of the seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

COVID 19 finally makes Doug Ford a popular premier (for a while)

Tweeted by Mr. Trump 1:25 PM, Nov 25, 2013

As it became clear to Ontario voters just what kind of conservative government Doug Ford actually had in mind for Ontario (one might urge, at any rate), his 42% approval rating of December 2018 had more or less progressively dropped to 31% in March 2020. And then it suddenly shot up to 69% in June 2020 — at what some thought was the end of COVID 19, but proved only the first wave.

When COVID 19 first set in Premier Ford in Ontario did not really behave like the president said to recommend ‘just take bleach’ in the USA, or other radical right-wing Christian nationalists and so forth. And can there be any doubt that this largely explains the dramatic jump in his Angus Reid approval rating from 31% in March to 69% in June of 2020?

Whatever else, Doug Ford gave the (probably genuine enough) appearance of serious concern about the people who were seriously ill and dying. He broadly believed in what his scientific advisors told him, and pursued public health policies only mildly moderated by inevitable political decisions in a democracy.

He also believed in public policies to support workers and families displaced by COVID 19, while shrewdly leaving the bulk of the financial and other heavy lifting to the federal government in Ottawa (which unlike provincial premiers had a press for printing money in the basement, as Premier Ford liked to explain).

From 69% approval down to 30% and then back a bit again to 45% !!

Lower Buckhorn Lake. Dan Quinn. October 24, 2021.

In the midst of all this in the summer of 2020 important (for me) people like my wife, who had never before liked Doug Ford at all, were professing some admiration for how he was handling the pandemic in Canada’s most populous province. But then it became gradually clear that COVID 19 had not been quickly conquered by Premier Ford or anyone else. It was still around.

And then again it once more became clear to Ontario voters (many of whom rarely have much time in their busy lives for provincial politics) just what kind of conservative government Doug Ford really had in mind for Ontario (one might urge, at any rate). His 69% approval rating of June 2020 had more or less progressively dropped to a new low of 30% in December 2021.

Almost strictly through the hard work and political savvy of Ontario PC political operatives in many different MSM places (one might urge again, etc) this 30% low was pushed back up to at least 45% in time for the June 2, 2022 Ontario provincial election.

It must be frankly admitted as well, I think, that we the people of Ontario have our own fair share of the blame for what happened when Doug Ford’s Ontario PC government was re-elected, with a still somewhat more solid legislative majority on June 2 2022.

The minor tragedy of the 2022 Ontario election

To start with (and to quote the neutral source of Wkipedia), June 2, 2022 “set a record for the lowest voter turnout in an Ontario provincial election, as only 43.53% of the people who were eligible voted. This broke the previous record for low turnout of 48.2% in the 2011 election.”

So the democratic majority of the people of Ontario did not even bother to vote in the June 2022 election. And when you look at the actual results among the not quite 44% of the electorate who did vote you can see a rational enough case for not voting in 2022, from a progressive point of view. In the end Doug Ford’s Ontario PCs took 83 of 124 seats in the Assembly with 40.82% of the province-wide popular vote.

The majority of the people of Ontario who did not want another Ford government unhappily spread their vote among too many alternatives. The New Democrats won 31 seats with 23.74% of the popular vote. The Liberals won only 8 seats with a slightly greater 23.85%! And Mike Schreiner’s Green Party still just managed his own seat with 5.96% across the province.

A year or so later the majority opposition ground is nonetheless still rumbling (albeit through the MSM). And Doug Ford’s comfortably governing Ontario PC s have had a bad summer 2023. As already noted up front, the premier’s own Angus Reid approval rating has fallen again, from an inflated election-hype high (say) of 45% in June 2022 to a new all-time low of 28% in September 2023.

Is Bonnie Crombie in 2026 the answer?

Bonnie Crombie from Mississauga, ON — the scourge of Doug Ford in 2026?

In this last connection Angus Reid has itself pointed to the early August 2023 release of an Ontario Auditor General’s report, alleging some degree of both hypocritical and/or just plain bad land use planning, and straight-out government corruption, in the Ford regime’s Greenbelt development policy for the Greater Toronto Area and surrounding regions.

To me, as to many others I am sure, this is just the start of something good. But the short-term bottom line certainly is that the Ford Nation remains in charge without mercy until the next election, June 4, 2026.

The current big mid-term hope for the 2026 election is Bonnie Crombie, progressive Mayor of Mississauga (the city just west of Toronto, on Lake Ontario), now running for Ontario Liberal leader. I have been surprised at the people from diverse backgrounds who have lately privately expressed support for Bonnie Crombie — as the leader who can most likely unite progressives to enough of a degree to end Doug Ford’s largely mindless schemes for turning Ontario into a right-wing ideological nirvana the majority of its people just do not want.

(And finally how does the latest Canadian progressive good news from Wab Kinew’s revival of Louis Riel’s Manitoba fit into the wider story of keeping democracy alive and well, all across Canada from coast to coast to coast????)

OCTOBER 10 UPDATE, 2:45 PM ET. Even up here in Buckhorn we could sense that something was brewing down in The Smoke, but today we found out just what, more exactly.

In the early afternoon (12:42 PM) the Toronto Star tweeted (on X of course) : “#Breaking: RCMP launches criminal investigation into Doug Ford’s Greenbelt land swap.” About an hour later the legendary local Toronto analyst John Lorinc added his tweet to the gathering twitter (again on X) : “While the Mounties are asking questions about those stinky greenbelt land flips, I’d suggest they poke around the @OntarioPlace deal with @ThermeGroup, which is every bit as dubious.”

The Toronto Star’s three eminent and excellent Ontario reporters, “Robert Benzie Queen’s Park Bureau Chief, Kristin Rushowy Queen’s Park Bureau, Rob Ferguson Queen’s Park Bureau,” have also taken this opportunity to put together a helpful review of the current state of the current Doug-Ford-is-in-trouble-(again) state of the art — to which you can probably gain access even as a non-subscriber, if you haven’t looked at anything on the Star site for a while now. And it’s certainly worth a try. See “RCMP launches criminal investigation into Doug Ford’s Greenbelt land swap … The RCMP has launched a criminal investigation into Premier Doug Ford’s $8.28-billion Greenbelt land swap scandal.”

I still find it a little hard to see just how even this kind of breaking news will finally prevent Premier Ford from remaining in office until June 4, 2026 (or worse?) — unless a majority of his own backbenchers in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario were to turn against him (or at least enough of his backbenchers to give a majority in the sovereign provincial parliament to the current three opposition parties!) And then who would his successor as Ontario PC leader be? I personally wish the real world of politics were otherwise. But in this case I don’t think it will be, until the 2026 election. And that is also time that Bonnie Crombie (or whoever else?) will need, to build something sensible and not even quietly and only moderately corrupt that can take on the Ford Nation … and win! That is how things look to one average citizen of the great province of Ontario now, who can also say “There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood …” Even when it suddenly gets cold …

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