Categories: Canadian NewsCultureDiscussionOpinionPolitics

Canada’s… Dictator?

After a decade and a half of Liberal rule, Ontario voters decided they were sick and tired of Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government, and voted overwhelmingly for change. Now, a 76 seat Progressive Conservative government has taken the reins of the province and plan on implementing changes to lessen Ontario’s debt and wasteful spending, and replacing controversial Wynne-era policy.

When a government is trying to save money, it’s inevitable that there will be budgetary cuts. Premier Doug Ford ran a campaign that promised to find and eliminate $6 billion. The PCs promised Ontario lower gas prices, lower Hydro rates, end the cap-and-trade emissions trading system, and lower income tax. Nearly two months into governing the province, and Ford’s PCs have been on a roll.

But the roll Doug’s government has been on has stirred up a lot of controversy and name calling from one side of the political spectrum. One word that has been used to describe only Mr. Ford more than once, while not at all towards other Canadian politicians. The word? Dictator.

The loudest person to cry dictator has been Andrea Horwath, of course. The Ontario NDP Leader, who remember already accused Ford of being a radical extremist for scrapping Wynne’s sex-ed curriculum but didn’t expel her own party’s radicals, accused the Premier of acting like a dictator.

It’s important to give the real, accepted definition of dictator. It is; a person granted absolute emergency power; one holding complete autocratic control; one ruling in an absolute and often oppressive way.

The hysteria really began when Premier Ford announced that the Government of Ontario would reduce the size of Toronto’s City Council. As of now, there are 44 council members with three more slated to be added this October.

Ford justified the justified the cut by comparing Toronto’s 44 member City Council that of Los Angeles’ 15 member one. He believes if a city with the population of 4 million can function with 15 city councillors, Toronto must be able to get by with 25. Ford also said that the provincial government was doing so in order to streamline decision making, calling Toronto City Hall the worst political theatre in the nation.

While not the greatest move, it hardly qualifies as dictator. Actually, it doesn’t qualify as dictator whatsoever.

Municipalities are a creature of provincial governments, as listed in the Constitution Act, 1867. That means that the Government of Ontario is not overstepping its jurisdiction when Ford says it’s going to slash the size of Toronto’s City Council.

One could easily make an argument that it isn’t fair for Ford to go forward with this proposal. Toronto Mayor John Tory made that argument, saying that it is so close to the election in October that it is interfering with it. While there is no time frame pertaining to Constitution Act, 1867 92(8), it is a little bit unfair to make the call with municipal elections just around the corner.

There are people who have quit their jobs and invested their money into their campaigns. If Ontario passes the legislation, there will be a lot of people running for positions that no longer exist.

If Ford wanted to wait until after the election and then make the cuts, there would be much less of a problem. Removing the 22 positions will also only save the city $25 million over four years, so it is not really worth the headache to make the move a few months before the election.

A common characteristic of dictatorships is a legislative attack on person freedoms, such as freedom of religious belief. The Government of Ontario announced that it will be joining B.C., Alberta and Manitoba in allowing turban-wearing Sihks to be exempt from wearing helmets while riding motorcycles. Some worry that the exemption will lead to more motorcycle deaths. Regardless, respecting Sihk’s religious right to wear a turban is a progressive move and not one of a dictator.

How else does Andrea Horwath’s ignorant comparison of Doug Ford to a dictator show that what is happening in Ontario is the opposite of a dictatorship? Mayor Tory will be able to challenge Ford in court, if his legal advisors recommend it. That right there is a checks-and-balance system in action – something missing from a dictatorship.

If Horwath took a quick peek at the definition of the word, she would immediately see she could easily apply the real definition, not the one found in NDP and Liberal handbooks, to another high profile Canadian politician. Good old Justin Trudeau.

Before I go on, it is important to note that I don’t actually believe that Trudeau is a dictator. To do so would be hypocritical. Canada has checks and balances that would ensure no government, Right or Left, would turn on its citizens. It is important to not toss labels like that onto people without absolute proof. Otherwise, people risk calling wolf and lessening the seriousness of the real dictators of the world. But if Horwath wants to play make-belief and apply labels to things that resemble their meanings, but aren’t quite accurate, than Trudeau is definitely the guy for her.

To start, Justin Trudeau does not like to have his caucus disagree with him. Back in early 2018, the federal government announced that it would introduce new gun laws to the country. The announcement was resisted by not only law abiding gun owners who did nothing wrong to be demonized, but by Liberal MPs.

The MP for Tobique-Mactaquac and Chair of the Liberal Rural Caucus, T.J. Harvey,  told the press that he had been verbally attacked by the Prime Minister during a caucus meeting. The reason why? For voicing his concerns over Bill C-71 and how his rural constituents would feel about such a Bill.

Instead of sitting down and having  a meaningful discussion with Harvey and asking how rural Canada might feel, Trudeau attempted to force him to vote with the party. In doing so, Trudeau showed his caucus that his words are more important than those of the people they were sent to Ottawa to represent. Does that sound closer to the real definition of dictator than Ford?

Well what about when the Prime Minister first tried to ignore, and then proceed to marginalize a citizen at one of his rallies? She was asking her Prime Minister when the federal government would pay Quebec back for the expenses related to the illegal immigration crisis. What did he do instead of giving anything remotely close to an answer? He pretended to misinterpret the question followed by accusing the woman of being intolerant and repeatedly telling her that her racism wasn’t welcome in Canada.

Adding this woman to this list of demonized people with gun owners, Trudeau wasn’t done with her yet. An alleged undercover RCMP officer grabbed the woman, Diane Blain, by the arm and attempted to escort her out of the crowd. Her cameraman repeatedly told him he could not to that, to which the man finally revealed his law enforcement position.

And why was Blain grabbed and pulled from the crowd? For asking a question about illegal immigration, something that is completely acceptable. She wasn’t being abrasive or abusive, and she was sure to not touch anyone.

It’s important to say that Blain is known to be a member of nationalist group that advocates against immigration. But as Trudeau always says diversity is our strength, and diversity of opinion is just as important to free society as diversity of identity. And her question wasn’t racist or about immigration, it was about the illegal immigration crisis that is sapping her province’s resources.

It does stop there, folks. Since the Trudeau government took office, it has asked Google dozens of times to remove Harper-era web pages from its search engine. His video blog isn’t a huge loss, but the news releases and daily posts are always good to have easily accessible. Especially since Harper’s government was only 2 years ago.

The information is all available through Canada’s archives, but that isn’t as easy as Googling whatever one needs to know. In this day in age, Google is synonymous with the Internet. If it’s not accessible through Google, it might as well not be online. Just ask any business owner.

Mr. Trudeau’s treatment of religious freedom is closer to being that of a dictator than Ford has been as well. While most religions have values that conflict with some of Canada’s, it is important that the government tolerates those differences so long as they are not harming others. But the federal government has removed faith-based groups who advocate against reproductive and LGBT-rights. The ones that were targeted were predominantly Christian groups, even though the Liberals told Canadians that it would apply to all religious groups. That’s much closer to dictator than it is to diversity.

The biggest impersonation of a dictator our Prime Minister has to beat Ford’s for Horwath is the infamous carbon tax. Originally accepted by most provinces, the federal government’s Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act has lost most of its provincial support. The Governments of Saskatchewan and Ontario have already teamed up to challenge the tax in court, and P.E.I. doesn’t plan on putting a price on carbon to lower emissions. Both Alberta’s United Conservative Party and New Brunswick’s PCs have vowed to oppose a carbon tax on their provinces if elected in 2019 and September 24, respectively.

British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia already have carbon pricing plans in action and Newfoundland and Labrador has a plan ready to propose to Trudeau.

The federal government gave the provinces until the end of the year to come up with their own plan, or risk being slapped with a federal carbon tax. It doesn’t matter to the Prime Minister whether or not the provinces have had elections be decided by the carbon pricing debate. Ontario already voted for the one party promising to fight the tax, and Alberta and New Brunswick could very well see the same thing happen to them. To impose a tax on at least two to four, potentially more, provinces that are against it would not be a good way to work with fellow leaders.

What will be interesting is P.E.I. Their Liberal government’s proposal is very interesting, and is actually what the federal government should be pursuing. Incentivizing the citizenry to move to green energy, investing in clean transportation infrastructure projects, and building on public transportation are all ways to make a sustainable, environmentally conscious society. But if Trudeau slaps his tax on them regardless, it will only prove to those who don’t already know that the carbon tax was never about reducing emissions. That may have been a nice side effect, but it is mainly there to make a profit.

This is very similar to Ford’s campaign when it was leaked that he would open up the Greenbelt for development. After public outcry, Ford reversed his stance on the issue. By listening Ford showed the province that when voters reach out and resist legislation, his government will take their opinions into full account. The same can’t be said for Prime Minister Trudeau and his carbon tax.

Yelling at MPs to listen to him and not their constituents, ignoring and vilifying citizens at rallies, making it harder to find some information about his predecessor, disrespecting religious freedom and forcing a tax that a good chunk of provinces oppose. That seems to embody the real definition of dictator than cutting spending by doing something Constitutionally acceptable. Toronto’s Mayor Tory is absolutely correct; it’s unfair for Ford to cut the seats available in the October election in July. But it isn’t illegal, and it certainly isn’t the move of a dictatorship.

Published by
Ian Kitchener
Tags: Canada

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