I am hearing rumblings that the media and left are much nastier against Ontario’s Premier Ford and his government than against Premier Mike Harris back in the late 1990s. Not so far, actually. First, a look back at the initial Harris mandate from 1995 to 1999. While some people may not clearly remember that period, I certainly do because I was there.
For example, two weeks after the 1995 election, all the new members went to Queen’s Park to give their oath of office. As a newly hired EA and Communications Strategist, I was invited to attend with my Niagara area MPP and his family. He gave his oath of office and we had lunch in the legislative dining room. It should have been an exciting day but outside it was bedlam with protesters, having surrounded the main building, shouting “Shame.” Remember, at that point, the new PC Government hadn’t done anything yet.
Two months later, the Ontario Legislature opened, the Cabinet was sworn in and there was a Throne Speech. I was there that day as well sitting in the gallery reserved for those invited by the MPPs. It was a very hot day and all the higher windows in the legislature were open. As a result, the noise from the protesters was so loud you could barely hear yourself think.
Then, mid-afternoon, there were 2 credible bomb threats. In the first instance, the local police had us all go to a lower floor and file out the back door to the actual Queen’s Park green space. An hour later, shortly after we were all back inside, there was the second threat and we all had to find our way through the connecting tunnels to other government buildings around Queen’s Park.
And we shouldn’t forget the daily and weekly protests everywhere throughout Ontario — for years. Sometimes, those protests, especially the ones organized by the unions, had as many as 100,000 people attending. As well, for months I had to arrive in Toronto by 6 am in order to get quietly in the back door of the legislature because the protestors would arrive around 7 am to scream and yell and block the entrances.
Now to Ford. A couple of weeks ago, Ford enacted a Bill that would reduce the size of Toronto Council. Immediately, the City of Toronto slapped a law suit on the Bill. Why? Because that is how the left works. If they can’t get their way one way, they will turn to the courts to get it another way.This time, however, after what most people considered a very poor judicial ruling, Ford announced that his government would be using the “Not Withstanding Clause (NWS).”
When I heard that, I actually cheered out loud. And, no, the dictators are on the side that did not win the election. The reality is that Saskatchewan used the NWS once and Quebec several times with barely a negative ripple in the media.
The crux of the matter is that the years the Mike Harris Conservatives governed Ontario, particularly from 1995 to 1999 were hell, not only for the elected members, but anyone just trying to make a living by working for the Executive Branch.
While I am sure those in the Ford caucus and those working for them feel the same way as I did, it is not nearly as bad, yet. I mean, Stephen LeDrew wrote on the National Post: “Settle down Toronto. Doug Ford isn’t changing anything important. A lot of the anger over the notwithstanding clause is just people still angry that Ford got elected.”
In other words, Ford just needs to continue to do what he is doing and what Harris did — full steam ahead so that he too can keep the promises he and his caucus made to their voters.