The Ontario Legislature descended into the maelstrom yesterday. The Ford government accused the opposition of mocking the dialect of one of its East Asian members. It then promptly refused to answer questions until it got an apology. The opposition claimed its house leader had not mocked anyone. "That's disgusting," quoth Doug Ford.
Opposition leader Andrea Horwath fired back, "So are you." Welcome to the Ford Years.
Michael Harris writes that there will be no turning back from Fordian abuse:
Clearly, Ontario’s Tiny Trump is determined to give Canada another one-man band on the political stage — despite Stephen Harper’s ringing failure on that score. And notwithstanding Donald Trump’s disastrous impersonation of Il Duce south of the border.
No one should be surprised though. The signs were everywhere that Ford would rush to join the spate of “strongman” leaders tainting “democracies” around the world, including the U.S., Russia, the Philippines, Turkey, Hungary and Italy. And yes, that’s Boris Johnson sneaking up behind Theresa May, ready to join the club. People are afraid, and they want Big Daddy, if not Big Brother. Note: Timorous citizens usually do not end up living in democracies.
One early hint about the kind of leader Ford would be, besides his disgraceful performance as a city councillor?
During the campaign that made him premier, he showed what he thought of the free press. He had his own people reporting on his campaign, using social media to post phoney news clips.
The fake reporter for most of the “news” videos was his own executive assistant, Lyndsey Vanstone. Voters seem not to have noticed the impersonation — or if they did, not cared about it.
It was Harper and “24 Seven” all over again. Fake news and press restrictions were the hallmark of the Harper years. Ominously, Ford spoke during the election about doing something about media “attacks.”
And one should not forget that, in his earlier life, Ford called Trump, "a man of moral fibre."
Yesterday, the Fordians announced that, instead of increasing social assistance payments by 3%, they were limiting the increase to 1.5%. Like the Harrisites, they are coming for those on social assistance first. And they cancelled the Guaranteed Income Pilot Project in three Ontario cities -- something Ford specifically pledged during the campaign he would not do.
The future is beginning to look a lot like the Ugly Past.
Image: The Toronto Star