Monday, September 10, 2018

Is The Man Smart Enough?

Like his predecessor, Mike Harris, Doug Ford plans to remake Ontario. And, just like Harris, he's starting with education. He has rolled back the sex ed curriculum of the previous government. And he's let it be known that funding in higher education depends on colleges and universities adopting "free speech" policies. Gerry Caplan writes that Ford has done many unexpected things:

But during the election, Ford pledged that "to tie university funding to free speech on university campuses." Last week he delivered on this pledge, warning colleges and universities, as the Globe explained, "they will face funding cuts if they fail to adopt free-speech policies that defend controversial speakers on campus." This echoed a position taken also by the federal Conservative Party leader during his leadership campaign last year. So much for the cherished principle of university autonomy.

Caplan believes that Ford's proposed policy has nothing to do with free speech:

I don't believe that's what's going on here at all. It reflects, rather, a conviction among conservatives that "radical left-wing" students are mobilizing to keep conservative speakers off Canada campuses. Those who know Ford's record are convinced he's determined to end this phenomenon and open universities to "controversial speakers" such as Holocaust deniers, anti-abortion activists, and far-right radicals.
After all, many of the speakers whose presence on campus has been opposed by the "politically correct" surely deserve total opposition. The Globe itself points to the presence at Wilfrid Laurier University early this year of one Faith Goldy, described as "a white nationalist and supremacist activist who has appeared on neo-Nazi podcasts". Is this the kind of person whose rights Mr. Ford is championing?
Should we fight for the rights of outright bigots? What about anti-Semites? What about those who champion the KKK? Surely they have crossed the line by inciting hatred against various minority groups. We can't stop students from being exposed to these racists and homophobes and misogynists. But what gives them the right to appear at our public universities? And what if a professor appropriately introduces the words of such demagogues in the course of their lectures?

There's an irony in all of this,

because almost all conservatives go on to make an exception for a category of those whose civil liberties they would not defend: those who criticize the state of Israel, especially those who promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel advocated for around the world.
In fact, despite winning many powerful supporters, the BDS campaign has garnered a universe of angry, indignant opposition, and has even been made illegal in some jurisdictions. In 2016, for example, hysteria overcame the Ontario legislature when Liberal and Conservative members united to pass a motion that rejects the 'differential treatment' of Israel by the BDS movement". Heaven knows what that meant, but its sentiments were clear enough.

It's all about free speech for those we agree with.

Ford has only been in office four months. Today, the Ontario Superior Court ruled that his plan to slash the number of seats on Toronto's City Council is illegal. Ford also recently lost a lawsuit brought by Tesla.

Is the man smart enough to read the signs?

Image: Twitter


Percival said...

He's a bull, Owen. He misread the China Shop sign.

Lorne said...

As I write this comment, Ford is overdue for his news conference reacting to the judge's ruling, Owen. I guess he realizes that more than sputtering outrage is called for, but, when you think about it, that's all he really has.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Percival. And, like the bull in the china shop, he'll do a lot of damage.

Owen Gray said...

Outrage is all he has, Lorne. He certainly doesn't have the smarts. The judge rulesd that, if he had waited, he might have succeeded. But changing the rules in the middle of an election was a clear violation of the Charter. The premier is no towering intellect.

ffibs said...

In answer to your question "no".

The Mound of Sound said...

On BBC News this morning I listened to an interview with a representative of Sweden's radical-right party discussing yesterday's elections. It was a brief comment but in the course of two, perhaps three, sentences she sued the words "failed", "failing" and "failure." She was deliberately resorting to Donald Trump's buzzwords. Trump is the template for all of these losers.

Owen Gray said...

The voters of Ontario should have been able to arrive at the same conclusion before they elected him, ffibs.

Owen Gray said...

Ford has said, Mound, that he believes Trump is "a man of moral fibre."

The Mound of Sound said...

You may not have heard but Ford has announced he'll recall the legislature on Wednesday to again pass the offending legislation only this time he'll invoke the notwithstanding clause to overcome the constitutional objection.

Yes, the notwithstanding clause. If he'll invoke it over something as petty as the size of Toronto city council he will find it easier to use whenever his designs run afoul of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

You people have a problem you have to deal with.

Owen Gray said...

I am aware of that development, Mound. What really bothers me is that we can't fix stupid. We do, indeed, have problems.

John B. said...

Rinse and repeat. How many times did Doug resort to some version of Harper's tired-old, tried and proven fallback, "We've been very clear …", when stumbling for his next words? I counted three, but there might have been more because I had trouble staying awake after his third or forth reference to "democracy" and "mandates". He also referred at least twice to the "tools in the [judge's] box" as if to suggest that the court can decide it's there for the purpose of opposing him. Damned activist judges - the deep state for sure! And, of course, it all must be some "leftwing" thing that he's contending with "for the people".

Doug figures that councillors have all the time they'll need to look after the concerns of twice the number of constituents as in the present. After all, their federal and provincial reps do. How many calls do those guys get about cars parked on the wrong side of the street or about a pop can being left in their blue box? Lots, I'll bet. I wonder how well his constituents were served when he was a one. Of course, maybe they weren't as predisposed to whining and complaining as the dispositionally dependent losers in other parts of the city might have been.

"Notwithstanding": this is great! Maybe we can use it to jail lefties and any other whiners that piss us off. We won't have to invoke "provincial security" after all.

The Mound of Sound said...

Governments, federal and provincial, are corralling us into a passive complicity in their excesses, Owen. The curative power of the ballot box is increasingly feeble. Lacking any meaningful referendum mechanism (that they shrewdly reserve to themselves), between elections we're just along for the ride. We're left with two options - griping and civil disobedience.

We're no longer even the chattering class. We're a dispirited, utterly powerless muttering class, Spiro Agnew's Nabobs of Negativity. By our complacency, even servility, we have allowed them to make us unwittingly complicit in their thuggery and, once they have us established on that wavelength, they can get away with murder.

Owen Gray said...

Ford obviously doesn't understand the concept of checks and balances, John. He believes he has been elected king.

Owen Gray said...

It seems that the only option left is to take to the streets, Mound.