Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Doug Ford: Our Next Premier

Disagree with me? I wish *I* disagreed with me.

I see an awful lot of people scoffing at how smart Ontarians are, how there's no way we could possibly elect our premier.  They're all wrong, both historically and with reference to current conditions.

Historically, this province elected Mike Harris TWICE. In landslides. TWICE. That second massive majority is all but forgotten by the people who voted against him both times, but it happened.

This province's largest city elected Rob Ford, and a sizeable subset of its population stuck by the man as he imploded into a global joke.

Doug Ford polls quite high right now, especially among immigrants, and he's up against the very definition of an elitist, stale politician in Kathleen Wynne...who has the lowest approval ratings of any Premier in Canadian history.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should. In many ways this mirrors a certain presidential election we're all too tired of. Doug Ford hasn't actually promised to "Make Ontario Great Again", but he is definitely casting himself as an anti-elitist, a man who has no use for government...and a man whose gut feelings, ahem, "trump" anything acknowledged experts might tell him.

Ford also comes from a millionaire family of known drug dealers. At the very least, he has exhibited more discretion than his late brother, but he was Rob's staunchest supporter all the way down the slide Rob greased for himself.

Like Trump, the Fords have repeatedly associated with some very shady characters. Like Trump. Doug Ford is peevish, extremely thin-skinned, impulsive, and unwilling to consider all sides of an issue.

He has announced four planks of his platform as of this writing:

  • repeal the Liberal strategy on marijuana legalization and more closely match that of certain jurisdictions such as Colorado;
  • drop the foreign investor's tax on real estate;
  • privatize undisclosed "government assets";
  • repeal the sex-ed curriculum in Ontario schools. 
To my horror, I actually agree with the first point. For the past hundred years, the government has persecuted people for using a harmless--indeed, a MASSIVELY BENEFICIAL--plant. Countless lives have been ruined. Now they're fixing to profit from it? Not just to profit, but to be the only ones who do so? That's hypocrisy writ large. Also, and maybe this is a relic of my conservative upbringing, but I really chafe at the nanny statism here. You get the sense that the government still sees this plant, which has numerous health benefits, as a vice. (That link isn't to a stoner's basement's to the Harvard Health Review). I call bullshit. Let people who know the product sell it; reap HST off of it, but don't you dare level sin taxes on it. Oh, and prescriptions for marijuana products should not be taxed (currently they're subject to GST). You want to eliminate the black market? Set your prices accordingly.

So Ford's marijuana strategy proves that old adage about stopped clocks. But the rest? Head, meet desk. 

Dropping the foreign investor's tax on real estate. Oh, yay. Because apparently housing prices in Toronto and surrounding area (which includes my city and extends all the way to Woodstock...are too LOW. This move benefits one group: homeowners. If you don't own a home--well, it was already unlikely you ever would, but with this in place? There will be people subletting their damn walk-in closets. No, thanks. 

Privatizing government assets. Classic Conservative shortsightedness. Oh, sure, you'll reap a nice windfall, but how much will that cost? Consider Highway 407,  under lease to a consortium including a Spanish multinational, until 2098. The private consortium heavily extorts Ontario commuters; the tolls are some of the most expensive on the planet. You can travel the entire 600 km length of the New York Thruway for less than it costs to drive 30 km across Toronto. That's what private companies will do to you unless there's competition. There was ever so much more wrong with the 407 deal -- perpetrated by the provincial Conservatives under Mike Harris, just one reason among many that he is still vilified almost twenty years later. 

I wonder what Ford will privatize. Certainly the LCBO. Now, unlike marijuana, alcohol carries with it serious health risks and costs. When you have a public health care system, as we do, it only makes sense to tax and control the things that contribute to those costs.

Ford in on record as saying he wants to greatly widen sales of alcohol, a move I have been dead set against ever since I worked at 7-Eleven before the turn of the millennium.  I've been called all manner of dirty names, but I stand by my conviction that alcohol is ENTIRELY too easy to get. There's one street in this city that sees more than one police call every 24 hours, the vast majority of them having to do with alcohol. 

I used to measure my alcohol consumption in thimblefuls. I'm by no means a lush, but I do drink tolerably often now. I have no problems procuring the stuff (more often than not, having it procured for me)...and I've rambled enough about this. 

On the sex-ed curriculum. Oh, but this pisses me off something fierce. We finally have a curriculum in Ontario that is at least somewhat realistic, covering things like consent, gender identity, and sex as it actually exists and as teens see it and have it--and Ford wants parents to be the ones telling their kids about sex.

I wrote about this three years ago and rather than repeat myself, I urge you to go read what I wrote. I stand by that blog without the slightest bit of shame or hesitation. But the TL;DR: Parents, you may think you're qualified to teach your children about sex. The vast majority of you aren't...even...close. 

The sex ed thing is just a symptom of a larger right wing rejection of reality. Don't like the thought of your kids having sex? Presto, they're not, and we won't talk about it. Don't like people who exist somewhere on the spectrum between "man" and "woman"? Presto, they don't exist. Don't like the thought that women might actually be entitled to the same rights you are? .... I could go on, but won't. I loathe everything social conservatives stand for. 

I could get behind fiscal conservatism -- who couldn't? -- except that there really doesn't seem to be such a thing. Conservative and Republican governments run on it...and then almost without exception,  leave the books worse than they find them. 

I will not be voting for Doug Ford's party. Which leaves me Wynne (ugh) or the NDP. which seriously needs to up its game. This is the provincial NDP's big chance, here. It comes around once a generation, and here it is. There is no way the Liberals can stay in power, and Ford is a bullshit artist extraordinaire who, like many a bullshit artist before him, tries to paint himself as just plain folk. 

I hope that doesn't work. But I fear it will. 

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