Since the election of Doug Ford, we are getting yet another lesson in the nature of democracy. People like Ford (and Donald Trump to the south, and Stephen Harper in our past) take advantage of those who think democracy only happens at election time. Unfortunately, an ill-informed electorate, an unexamined populism and a healthy infusion of right-wing money can coalesce in to the election of profoundly undemocratic leaders like the aforementioned Ford and Trump.
Stephan Harper once said, in a closed meeting of American right-wing ideologues and power brokers, that “in a parliamentary system, a prime minister with the will and an electoral majority can act like a dictator”. And proceeded to do so. Remember his defensive proroguing of parliament, the Conservative attacks on parliamentary committees and their implicit claims that the Conservative Party, not Parliament, was Canada’s government? (And keep in mind that an equally toxic right-wing Conservative ideologue, Andrew Scheer, is lurking out there).
Now we see Doug Ford carrying out drastic changes to Ontario not mentioned in his election campaign. His economic moves so far will devastate our economy, something Conservative governments always tend to do, despite their rhetoric. He is attacking infrastructure, the environment, education and healthcare – and is government is only a few months old!)
Remember when parties moved toward the centre after being elected, in a tacit understanding that they must govern for ALL Canadians, not just the minority that voted them in? Remember Conservative statesmen like Joe Clark and Bill Davis who respected the requirements of parliamentary democracy, and made sure it worked to the benefit of all? Remember when political parties talked to each other, listened to all Canadians and worked toward effective compromises for the good of the country?
Democracy – the respect for all voices within a country or province – must operate during and BETWEEN elections, something that the ideological sledgehammers currently being elected studiously and aggressively ignore.
So, get ready to fight hard to keep Ontario truly democratic. Make sure our next federal election produces a seriously democratic government (and the best way to do that is to elect lots of New Democrats, ideally enough to form the first federal NDP government).