Considering Doug Ford and the Ford family's criminal history, is it any surprise that Ford's Progressive Conservative government would be up to its eyeballs in corruption?
This exhaustive investigation by the Toronto Star and National Observer lays bare the actions of the Ontario Tory government and its corrupt big business land developer friends since Ford's Tories came to office in 2018.
"Eight of Ontario’s most powerful land developers own thousands of acres of prime real estate near the proposed route of the controversial Highway 413, a Torstar/National Observer investigation has found.
"If built, the road will raze 2,000 acres of farmland, cut across 85 waterways and pave nearly 400 acres of protected Greenbelt land in Vaughan. It would also disrupt 220 wetlands and the habitats of 10 species-at-risk, according to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
"One developer, John Di Poce, employed the head of the Ontario PC party’s fundraising arm for several years and three other developers employ the chair of Caroline Mulroney’s 2018 PC leadership campaign as a government lobbyist. Mulroney is now Ontario’s transportation minister and will play a key role in future decisions about the 413 highway.
"Another of the developers, Michael DeGasperis, hosted Ford and PC MPP Stephen Lecce in a private luxury suite at the BB&T Center in Miami to watch a Florida Panthers’ NHL game in December 2018. In a statement, spokespeople for Ford and Lecce said both politicians paid for their own tickets to the game and no government business was discussed."That was shortly after the Ford government had resurrected the proposed 413 highway."
We've already seen the impacts of "unappealable" Minister’s Zoning Orders, or MZOs, in many parts of the province where environmental laws designed to protect us all, not to mention local rules, have been washed away in favour of fast-tracking whatever land developers want.
Now it looks likely the corrupt Tories are going to push forward with the unnecessary Highway 413, destroy acres of precious farm and wetlands, just to get their select corrupt big business developer friends even richer than they already are.
This is hard to swallow on top of Ford's mishandling of the pandemic, constantly favouring the worst instincts of big business against the health of all Ontarians - closing down too late and then opening up too early again and again as variants of Covid-19 rip through the province. As more enlightened leaders like New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern have shown us, we needed hard lock downs early in order to keep case levels and community transmissions down. Not in Ontario or other places like it governed by conservatives. Ford kept hesitating despite his fake words, implementing half measures and sowing confusion, resulting in a tragic second wave and now an exploding third wave. The new deaths that will occur because of his incompetence, as well as the lifetime health impacts for those who survive this third wave, are his responsibility.
Is there hope for the future? Not as long as this pro-big corruption PC Party stays in power. Even if Ford were somehow kicked out and replaced as PC leader, this is a party whose ties to the ultra-rich and corrupt elite in Ontario are unseverable. For example, the ties between Caroline Mulroney and the forces pushing for Highway 413 are now obvious. Let's not forget she's also the daughter of one of the most corrupt Prime Ministers this country has ever seen (and whose decision to sell off Connaught Labs in the 1980s undermining Canada's ability to manufacture vaccines really isn't aging well, don't you think?)
Under our pathetic electoral, winner-take-all system in which 59.5% of Ontario voters only received 39% of the seats (Ford's Tories won a 61% majority with only 40.5% of the votes), it can be disheartening for those who want just, equitable, fair government that doesn't merely do the bidding of corrupt big business.
What are our options?
The Ontario Liberals, to their credit, did do some good things in office from 2003 to 2018, including reject Highway 413. But they also did a lot of crappy and corrupt things that have yet to be forgotten by the wider public. Every time I try to add credit to my Presto card to take transit in the GTA, I'm reminded of the crappy deal the Ontario Liberals handed to commuters here.
New Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca, who as Transportation Minister was happy to change official plans in order to benefit himself politically, doesn't seem like the tonic we need after Doug Ford's corrupt Conservatives. Del Duca's ties to the same land development cartels are probably as strong as Ford's. Still, perhaps he'll draw enough votes away from the corrupt Tories to deny the PCs a majority.
After the 2018 election, I was so disappointed with Andrea Horwath's defeat, I sort of gave up on her. Yet, perhaps I was too hasty in that estimation. Horwath remains as Ontario NDP Leader. She's as clean and uncorrupt as any leader can get. Maybe it is time for Horwath. She's already gained so much ground, winning 40 seats and 34% of the vote in 2018, dominating urban areas of the province from downtown Toronto, parts of the 905, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Kitchener, London, Windsor and most of northern Ontario. The road to power is a lot shorter for the Ontario NDP than it is for the decimated Ontario Liberals. A government led by Horwath would put the corrupt interests currently controlling Doug Ford on the outside looking in.
That could only be good for Ontario, even if just for one term. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing (voting Tory, voting Liberal) over and over and expecting a different result. I'm thinking outside the box again.
June 2022 can't come soon enough. I just pray and hope that Andrea Horwath puts in the work, hones a clear and compelling anti-corruption message and platform, recruits strong candidates in crucial ridings who look like cabinet ministers, not anti-poppy nut bars you wouldn't want to let babysit your kids.
Because without one strong option for change, sadly this corrupt present in Ontario will continue to be our future for many years to come.
**** UPDATE April 7, 2021
This is more like it. Too little too late? For the sake of all of us, I hope not.