Ontario throne speech and Ford government’s actions taking us back in time

Toronto – July 16, 2018 - The actions of the Ford government so far, and the Throne speech opening the new session of the Ontario legislature, look a lot like a government trying to take the province back in time.

Ignoring climate change, Ford had already announced he was scrapping Ontario’s cap and trade carbon pricing initiative. The immediate cost is the $100 million in cap and trade revenues that were to be used to repair crumbling infrastructure in our public schools. Add a few more steps backward with the cancellation of rebates for energy efficient home renovations, and electric vehicle and charging station incentives. These cancellations also have the potential to lead to expensive lawsuits from industry, as well as more court costs to fight the federal government’s plan to implement a carbon tax, as Ontario backtracks from its climate change initiatives. As for the Ford government’s alternative plans to tackle climate change, the Throne speech provided no clue.

The Throne speech regurgitated Ford’s cancellation of the updated sex ed curriculum in Ontario schools, and announced it would be replaced with curriculum from 1998; back to a time before social media and cyberbullying existed, and before same sex-marriage was legal. Teaching about consent would also be dropped.

The speech also alluded to rolling back policeoversight initiatives – which could mean the return of “carding” – a practice where primarily youth of colour were arbitrarily stopped and interrogated by police for supposedly suspicious behaviour.

Ford has also vowed to roll back and roll over low wage workers by cancelling the legislated increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour and resumed his attack on workers’ rights by vowing to violate the constitutional rights of workers by ordering strikers at York University back to work.

Ford’s pledge to sell beer and wine in corner stores could also lead to the potential loss of good union jobs and the communities they support. The speech also pointed to pushing public services backwards, with its announcement of a “Commission of Inquiry” into the province’s finances: a process typically used by right wing governments to justify their program of slashing public services. At the same time, it provided no information on how the Ford government is going to replace the billions in revenue the province will lose due to tax cuts and cuts to other revenue sources. The speech also made no mention of Indigenous peoples or climate change and had no lines spoken in French.

One can only think that this is a government that would like to take us back in time, rather than acknowledge the reality and diversity of today’s Ontario. Stuck in reverse, the next four years could be one precarious ride.