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The names have been changed to protect the guilty

Health rally at Queen's Park April 30th 2019
John Bell

June 20, 2019

Not content to grant themselves a 5 month holiday, the Doug Ford Conservatives insist on keeping in the public eye. Closing the legislature doesn’t mean they can’t make our lives miserable, it just means there is no chance to hold them accountable.

At least 2 million or so Torontonians got to tell him what they think of him when he had the nerve to crash the Raptors’ victory party. According to the Orwellian spin doctors at the Premier’s office, the deafening chorus of boos and chants of “Fuck Ford” were a tongue in cheek sign of affection, while the relatively kind reception for Justin Trudeau was “sarcastic”.

University and college students have received their assessments from OSAP, the Ontario Student Assistance Program, only to discover the amount of their support cut by half. The result is a student cohort facing rising costs and few summer job opportunities. And most of what jobs exist are minimum wage jobs (after the Tories reduced the minimum wage) that won’t cover the shortfall.

Around 400 special needs workers providing support for families dealing with autism received their pink slips. Programs to integrate autistic students into schools are cut. Parents, teachers and support workers are leading protests. Ford dismisses them, saying he is spending money and consulting experts (families living with the challenge of autism and front line workers evidently do not count as experts).  His spokesperson assures us that “the market will right itself”. Since when are vulnerable young people grist for the market? And who is the real victim here – why, Doug Ford, of course: “We’re helping them, and they’re protesting? ... I question that.”

There is no questioning one thing: Ford’s approval rating is falling fast. Even the federal Conservatives want him out of sight, hence the parliamentary holiday. But Ford isn’t the shy and retiring type. He can no more stop bullying the people of Ontario than he could keep away from the Raptor’s parade. And since whatever goes wrong is always someone else’s fault, it’s time to blame the supporting cast and shuffle the cabinet.

MPP Monte McNaughton is moved from Infrastructure Minister to Labour Minister. McNaughton was labour critic during Wynne’s government, and is on record as a fan of “Right to Work” legislation like that passed in some US states. There are strong rumbles that Ford is just waiting for the federal election to pass before launching his assault on organized labour, and McNaughton would be an enthusiastic hatchetman.

Vic Fidelli is out as finance minister, booted down to the Economic Development portfolio. Ford’s former far-right hand man takes the fall for April’s massively unpopular “Open for Business” budget that overflowed with austerity cuts and layoffs for medical workers and teachers. He is replaced by the scabrous Rod Phillips, who has been Environment Minister and leading the charge against the “Carbon Tax”.

The Lisas, both MacLeod and Thompson, were only following orders but they’ve both been scapegoated for the chaos created in their portfolios (Children, Community and Social Services; and Education). MacLeod takes over at Tourism, Culture and Sport, while Thompson gets Consumer Services, whatever that is.

Carolyn Mulroney is out as Attorney General and is now in charge of traffic gridlock and subways, subways, subways as Minister of Transportation. Christine Elliott remains as Deputy Premier, but her portfolio as Health Minister is being broken up: Merrilee Fullerton will assist as Minister of Long Term Care, and Michael Tibollo is added as associate minister of mental health and addictions. It is interesting that while health services are being lumped under a single “super agency”, it takes three hacks to usher in privatization through the back door. There is no doubting the newbies’ qualifications; Fullerton campaigned by re-tweeting Islamophobic conspiracy theories and posts from neo-Nazi organizations, and Tibollo has been deemed a rising star for the enthusiasm with which he has kissed Ford’s ass at every turn.

This marks the second time in just over a year that Ford has rearranged his trained seals. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. With 73 MPPs to choose from, Ford has no shortage of obedient creeps and thugs to tell us day is night and make our lives miserable.






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