Keep Your Eye on Ontario


In the June 8 Ontario provincial election, the ruling Wynne Liberals were resoundingly defeated winning only 7 seats, the NDP gained 22 seats to total 40, and the Conservatives led by Doug Ford became the new majority government with 76 seats.  The Green Party won its first seat in Ontario history.  Interestingly, the Conservatives won their seats with 40% of the popular vote, almost doubling the seats of the NDP which won only 6% less of the popular vote.  Strange electoral system!  It is also important to note that only 58% of eligible Ontario voters voted so it would be factually correct to say that 77% of Ontario’s eligible voters did NOT vote for Ford’s Conservatives.  Essentially, only 23% of the eligible voters went for the Cons.


While reporting on the election the monopoly media did its usual trick of pretending that there were only candidates of the three “major” parties running in Ontario, on occasion also mentioning the Greens.  The fact of the matter is that there was a total of 28 political parties registered for the election, as well as additional independent candidates, making a grand total of 825 registered candidates, only 372 or 45% of which ran for the three “major” parties.  At least 15 of the registered parties had ten or more candidates. In total, the non-major parties collected a total of about 100,000 votes which is definitely a significant number.


The main point is that neo-liberal governments like Doug Ford’s Conservatives do not have consent of the governed, no matter how often and how loudly they claim of getting a mandate, e.g., the talk of “Ford Nation”. This lack of consent poses a serious problem for those who hold power. The more their champions in government speak about Ontario not being divided and being "one nation," Ford or otherwise, the more Ontarians and others show their unwillingness to submit to what is imposed on them by rulers who do not represent them. In actuality, it is the mass movement for people's empowerment which will hold the Ford government to account. Nothing else.


The ongoing media blackout on all but “major parties” was as usual accompanied by so-called “leader debates” and “all-candidates meetings” that, again, only included the “major” parties, objectively stifling the voices of all the other candidates. We suggest that it is a big mistake to dismiss the small party and independents as “non-serious” candidates.  For example, independent Laura Chesnik, an elementary school teacher and candidate in Windsor-Tecumseh, is well-known in that city for actively upholding the rights of Ontario teachers and education workers.


With Alberta’s provincial election coming up within a year, it is important to keep an eye on Ontario.  What the Conservatives do in Ontario will likely be similar to the policies that will be implemented by new Con governments in other provinces. Of particular importance to CUPE 3911 members and others will be the new Ford regime’s post-secondary education policies. Conservative governments are not traditionally generous with investments in education.  Cutbacks under the hoax of “austerity” are common. Con governments have the strange notion that education, health care and other social programs are “expenses” rather than investments, while subsidies, tax cuts, and royalty reductions for corporations (mainly foreign) are the “real” investments. And there is also the question of what Ford will do about the ongoing CUPE 3903 strike at York University. Already he has asserted that he will “end the strike” when the Ontario legislature meets in July.


It is also noteworthy that similar to the Opposition in Alberta, the Ford campaign provided very little information in terms of a concrete agenda as to what it planned to do once in power.  There was the usual blather about “spending efficiencies” which is well-known to be code for laying off workers and cutting investments in social programs. But specifics are lacking.  For example, the National Post summed up Ford’s few stated education “promises” as follows: “Roll back the province’s updated sex-ed curriculum, “until we can install a new one that is age appropriate and based on real consultation with parents,” ban cell phones in all primary and secondary school classrooms, “fix” the province’s standardized-testing regime, and require universities to “uphold free speech on campuses and in classrooms.”  (The latter is interesting in light of the fact that Ford also says he will ban the annual Al Quds day celebrations held since 1979 in various cities across Canada and the world under the hoax that because the celebrations criticize Israel they are “anti-semitic”!)  With such minimal information available, we will obviously have to wait and see to find out what is really in store for education in Ontario.

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