Ford fast-tracks the slippery slope.

One of the problems with being a bit older is that you have seen it all before. Premier Doug Ford, for example, might be just a reprise of Mike Harris, conservative premier of Ontario from 1995 to 2002. One of the reasons for the longevity of the McGuinty-Wynne liberals after that was the memory of Ontario voters of the mistakes Harris made.

And it looks as though Doug Ford is digging his own grave in the same way as Harris dug his. It is the old story of those who do not learn from the past making the same mistakes. Harris’ mantra was something called ‘the common-sense revolution.’ It was your basic slash and burn conservatism, ‘open for business’ and cutting of taxes.

It would appear that Mike Harris and his provincial ministers gave their changes more consideration than Ford’s people have given their legislation, so far.

Mike Harris gave people lots of time to blow smoke about consolidating Toronto into a supercity. While he had no idea how to fix Toronto’s political problems, Harris let the naysayers vent and then went ahead and put the city into one. It did not save the city any money either.

There were two incidents caused by Harris’ dogmatism that helped speed his downfall. These were at Walkerton and Ipperwash Provincial Park.

In Walkerton, the province—instead of cutting the regulations—cut out the people who oversaw the regulations. These experts, for example, gave technical assistance to people running municipal water treatment plants. It left a lot of people guessing at what to do and, in Walkerton in south-western Ontario, they were about five days to late in finding out that their water supply was contaminated with E. coli bacteria. In an area of 5000 population, more than 2000 people suffered through illness brought on by the contamination and five, six or seven were reported to have died, depending on your source of information.

In the Ipperwash park situation, the local aboriginal population had been displaced from their lands in the area during the Second World War and were still trying to get compensation from the federal government 50 years later. The military had stopped using the federal government area and nobody paid attention to the aboriginals. Since the Ipperwash Provincial Park was popular, the aboriginals occupied that part of the land. It got the wrong attention and a provincial police sharpshooter ended up killing an un-armed protestor.

Since nobody in Ontario expects the provincial police to be told what to do by the premier’s office, premier Harris, so-to-speak, missed a bullet on that one!

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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