Privacy passing.

Political wannabes never seem to understand the lost privacy of politics. There is less and less every year. Privacy is a passing possibility.

I can remember back in the early 1980s when taking part in a business conference in Calgary. Former finance minister John Turner was the guest speaker one day and he sort of swore everyone to secrecy before launching into a diatribe against Pierre Trudeau’s policies as prime minister. For someone who was expected to step into Trudeau’s role as liberal party leader in a couple years, it was a vitriolic and apolitical speech.

It was obvious that John had not noticed me at the back of the room. He looked a little concerned when I walked up to him afterwards. I opened with asking him what this confidentiality was about? I told him I had gone to a lot of trouble to make careful notes on what he said for a reporter at the Calgary Herald. He realized that he had just been maligning friends of mine.

But at that time, John got away with it. The days of cell phones with cameras were not on us yet.

What got me thinking about this was a supposedly private meeting Doug Ford, leader of the Ontario conservatives, had with some developers a while ago. It seems someone captured Doug’s comments with a cell phone about the greenbelt around Greater Toronto. He actually told the businessmen that after all, the greenbelt was just ‘farmer fields’ and he thought some 800,000 hectares should be developed. He thinks greenbelt is easy to replace.

As you also heard, the plan was short-lived. It was obvious that Doug Ford knew very little about the greenbelt. He obviously did not understand that the Toronto greenbelt includes the Oak Ridges Moraine that is an aquifer drainage region that provides fresh water for more than six million people in the Toronto region. Doug Ford wants to pave it over. What is amazing about this offer from Ford is that the usually more aware developers seemed to consider it a great idea.

Obviously, at least one of the developers thought it through and gave his cell phone video to the liberal environment minister Chris Ballard at Queen’s Park.  Ballard showed the video to the news media.

Smarter people on the Tory team must have prevailed and the plan was quickly cancelled. It makes you wonder though what other private promises Doug Ford is making to people for their financial support. There must be quite a few greedy people across Ontario who do not like restrictions put in place by government to the benefit of citizens both now and in the future.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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