Now: the grand push-back

December 1, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Since Monday’s passing of Bill 23 at Queen’s Park by the Conservative “majority,” it is time we reflected on what democracy means to any of us. Well, anyone at all with a military connection, which on Remembrance Day a few weeks ago seemed to include nearly all of us, every time, soldiers are told at least and they must believe it or surely they would never go, go and put their lives on the line – what just to travel on the government’s dime and see the world – what – just to fill the pockets of all the manipulators of war?

No. They go because they believe on some level what they are told: that they are fighting for the freedom of the people under attack, on the premise that those same attackers could someday strike at their own homes, should they succeed on this battlefield.

The world imposed serious sanctions on South Africa where the right to vote was forbidden to a large percentage of the population in the dark days of apartheid. We impose sanctions on countries to protest their infringements on human rights.

Recently, there have been talks about sanctions against Brazil for the decimation of the Amazon Rain Forests – in protest against environmental policies that are putting the whole planet at risk. Risking the lives of the Indigenous people who live there. Taking away their rights to their own homes in the forests. Pushing them out to raise cattle and grow bananas.

Rights – we care about the rights of freedom to speak, freedom to live without oppression and the right to vote.

Really huge money, really huge sacrifices.

Since Monday, there are many plans for a number of protests against Bill 23: the destruction of the Green Belt in spite of many viable alternatives – the padding of pockets – the irrefutable truth that the Green Belt cannot be moved but can only be ruined. The Bill that denied the government’s own experts’ opinions and urgings not to pass this bill.

Bill 23 is a litany of sins including but not limited to curbing the democratic rights of the people of this province and never mind the so-many wars in which our young men and women have died to stop the theft of those rights in other countries.

Think I’m exaggerating? Not at all. Bill 23 takes away your right and mine to know what is being built in that plot of land that should be left to Nature. Not only not informed but not appealing, not objected to. What’s more? That the very experts who could warn us, whose business it has been to allow or prevent building where it should not go – are now prohibited from telling us about it, from advising municipalities about the pending dangers coming to their own backyards.

Wait a minute, wait a minute! You mean this tide, this tragedy could have been stemmed? Without soldiers to protect us? Without sanctions against our province for the destruction of its plans?

But how!?

If we had voted against the probability of Bill 23 by voting against Doug Ford’s conservative government, he could not be doing this. By and large, we all knew what they had in mind and whom those plans would and would not benefit. 

If the public of Ontario really wakes up now and shakes Doug’s tree so hard, he falls out of it; if the majority of Ontarians object and use their rights to protest before those rights are taken away by another “notwithstanding clause” fiasco, we might prevent the damage he plans.

The then-leader of the Opposition and the Ontario NDP, Andrea Horwath and the then-leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, Steven Del Duca have a lot to answer for. It was they who blew Doug Ford back into business. Did they not notice that he never answered any questions about his record against the provincial health care system; against Ontario’s education, about his own misdemeanours in parliament, and his consistent absences?

He did not bother; he just parroted his lines about creating jobs. He just sat back, without bothering about his own appearances in public and waited for those two to give him the election.

Because Horwath and Del Duca each decided to have a race between them for second place. They gave the show to Doug because they each wanted the best either one of them could do, which was second place. 

By election day, the public was so bored with the state of politics in Ontario, they didn’t even bother with their strongly defended right to vote. 38% of the available electorate voted. Doug Ford’s “majority” comes from 18% of the vote.

We protest against this statistic but did you vote to prevent it?

It is the failure of Del Duca and Horwath and I sincerely hope they bite their pillows at night – even if they do, so what…

Now, every one of us must make up for the failure of that election day and protest the result of it.

Bill 23 has been passed as of Monday of this week and we will have to dedicate ourselves to its being rescinded or pay a terrible price.

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