Doug Ford won the election with a lazy, scandal-ridden campaign fueled by lies and cheap slogans. No one, not even Conservatives, should be particularly happy about this.
By Ryan McGreal
Published June 08, 2018
Despite a scandal-ridden moral shambles of an election campaign, Doug Ford will be Ontario's next Premier and the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party will form a majority with 76 seats. There will be plenty of time for postmortems, recriminations, analyzing and strategizing in the coming days, but for now my overwhelming feeling is sadness.
I feel sad for the one and a half million Ontario workers who are paid the minimum wage and will no longer receive a badly-needed pay increase next January - nor, realistically, any time in the next four years.
I feel sad for families with young children who struggle to pay for childcare and will no longer see the relief they were promised.
I feel sad for everyone who lacks drug coverage for their prescribed medications, who must sometimes choose between medical care and paying rent or buying groceries. We had a chance to close a serious gap in Ontario's public health care system, and chose to leave it gaping.
I feel sad for public service workers who must now be waiting for the other shoe to fall in the form of pay cuts, job losses and privatization. And I feel sad for the Ontarians who depend on those essential public services.
I feel sad for women who must now be governed by a sexist bully who calls women he doesn't like "little bitch" and told a pregnant reporter to get off her "lazy ass". Given his pattern of abusive misogyny, it's no surprise that a staggering 59 percent of women recently surveyed rated him zero out of ten on trustworthiness.
I feel sad for immigrants, refugees and people of colour, who will have to live with a bigger risk of harassment and assault in Doug Ford's Ontario, now that his pandering to white supremacists has been validated and the haters who support him can crawl further out into the open.
I feel sad for everyone who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer, who have already been demonized through Ford's transparently homophobic attacks against Ontario's new health curriculum and will find life becoming more dangerous in Ford's Ontario.
Likewise, I feel sad for children who deserve to learn about their bodies, their rights and their responsibilities to each other through a dignified, evidence-based sex education program. Instead, their schooling will be hijacked into an ugly wedge to pander to bigots.
I feel sad for people on Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program, who are prime targets for a government looking to "find efficiencies" by squeezing public spending. The last PC government ruthlessly cut social assistance by 21 percent, and we should not expect any better from this one.
I feel sad for municipal councils, who should start bracing for austerity measures in the form of reduced transfer payments and downloaded obligations. I feel sad for everyone who pays property tax, i.e. everyone, and for the municipal leaders who will be pressured to squeeze ratepayers to cover the shortfall.
I feel sad for Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne, two incredibly strong, intelligent, hard-working women who were always prepared to explain their platforms in detail and answer tough questions. They lost to an unqualified bully who barely understands the issues and coasted through the campaign on a lazy fog of lies and cheap slogans. Horwath and Wynne were held to unforgiving standards while Ford was graded on a curve. I can't think of a more poignant example of straight white male privilege.
I feel sad for the decent, respectable members of the Ontario PC Party, many of whom are likely feeling ambivalent right now about their leader. They may be telling themselves that they can moderate him or that he will grow into the job. They can't and he won't. Doug Ford is a dignity wraith who will debase and humiliate everyone who works for him.
I feel sad for every young person who rejected apathy and cynicism, swam against the demographic current and cast a vote for a more hopeful future. I hope this outcome does not convince them that voting is a waste of time.
There will be Serious People who will wag their fingers and say, "In a democracy the voter is always right." I disagree. In a democracy, the voter has the right to be wrong.
Notwithstanding our antiquated first-past-the-post voting system, in which a party that received 40.63 percent of the popular vote won 61 percent of the seats, Ontario voters made the wrong choice.
We will have the next four years to reflect on that choice as Ford and his cruel government roll back the modest improvements in fairness achieved over the past 15 years, lurch from scandal to scandal, and further coarsen our already-ugly political discourse with Trump-style right-wing populist attacks on journalists and political enemies.
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