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LETTER: Debate carefully before voting, reader urges

Letter writer warns of 'ridiculous situation' in which Ford could get one-third of the voters and win 'majority control of our legislature'
Elections Ontario vote sign
File photo

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at dave@orilliamatters.com. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a letter, published May 24, titled, 'Value of issue-driven debates is debatable.'
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A glance at the polling evidence yesterday showed Doug Ford the choice of 36.0% of voters which means, of course, that 64% of those polled are planning, at this moment, to vote for someone else on June 2 — Election Day in Ontario.

At the same time, analyses of the poll results lead to the conclusion that Doug Ford’s Conservatives will be elected with a “majority government.”

What?

Are we in yet another situation when winning the votes of just over one-third of voters means a party is elected to “majority” control of our legislature? Just how long are voters in Ontario going to accept this ridiculous situation? I repeat: almost two-thirds of voters in Ontario do NOT want a Doug Ford led government! In spite of this, it appears likely that, under our current electoral system, that his party will be elected as “our government” and have 100% of the power to make decisions over the next four years.

Decisions like building a major highway through the Holland Marsh. Decisions like scrapping contracts with businesses pursuing “green energy” answers (though he does rather belatedly support building electric cars in Ontario, it appears). Decisions like reducing the ability of municipalities to oppose development that will endanger or destroy valuable wetlands and farmlands. Decisions like eliminating the position of Environmental Commissioner. Decisions like protecting the companies who run private long-term care homes.

As you may have gathered, I am no fan of Doug Ford’s record of government. While he had his moments during the pandemic, we have witnessed far too much death in our long-term care homes; we have seen poor decisions that seriously damaged small businesses (with large box-stores exempt); we have seen other decisions that have harmed the young people in our schools, caught in the lockdowns and reckless promotion of untried online alternatives.

In addition, health-care workers of all kinds, from PSWs to specialists, have been stressed and exhausted from the ebbs and flows of the pandemic over the past two years. Front-line workers, often low paid, were often sacrificed by the government in its disregard for their welfare—as well as the welfare of the poor and disabled, who don’t seem to rate highly on his priority list.

Health care, education, the economy, housing, agriculture, environmental protection and the climate crisis—all are crucial issues if Ontario is going to be a healthy place to live and work.

Has the Doug Ford government made Ontario a better place to live since 2018? Apparently the Conservative Party thinks they haven’t. The word on the street is that Conservative MPPs have been advised to skip all-candidate meetings during this campaign.

Our own MPP, Jill Dunlop, has been missing in action at all of the local Orillia debates. Fear of accountability? Expectation of being re-elected anyway? Arrogance? Whatever the reason, representatives who refuse to speak to the people they represent should not be re-elected, no matter their party colours.

A recent letter by Doug Lewis, former Conservative MP, suggests that missing all-candidate meetings is normal. I can assure you it is not — at least in provincial elections.

I have been a candidate in three Ontario election campaigns — 2011, 2014 and 2015 — and I can assure you that candidates of all parties did their best to attend all-candidate meetings, and that was the case in the 2021 federal election, as well — on ZOOM, of course.

Mr. Lewis seems to be trying to “normalize” the behaviour of provincial Conservative candidates in this election. No, readers, in a democracy, it is anything but normal to miss these meetings. The occasional one, perhaps, because of a scheduling conflict, but most of them? No.

He makes an interesting insinuation in comparing the Orillia Chamber hosted meeting and other group-sponsored meetings, calling the latter “special interest” meetings and saying, “The media would do us all a favour by better publicizing who the special interests are behind the 'issue-driven' meeting, when it was decided to hold the meeting, and who was invited, when, and how and better still, reporting as to the actual number in attendance.”

I can assure the local public that other all-candidate meetings in this area have been long-planned, all candidates have been invited along with interested members of the public, and all have had good attendance. Who are these “special interest" groups? Local environmentalist organizations. Lakehead University students. Business people in downtown Orillia.

Just what do you mean, Mr. Lewis, by suggesting that somehow these aren’t legitimate groups who have a right to question candidates in a forum that is totally accepted in our Ontario and Canadian traditions?

Are “business people,” those behind the Chamber meeting, somehow NOT a “special interest” group? Surely any interested group has a right to ask candidates to appear during an election campaign, don’t they, Mr. Lewis? Especially if they have some “issues?”

Does Ford and his government really deserve another four years? Does our MPP? Can Ontario afford another government supported by only one-third of our votes?

Perhaps no single Ontario party deserves a “majority government” in Ontario on June 2. A government formed from “parties representing a majority of the voters” would seem a better choice — a government with a voter mandate to address the significant issues the province faces in the next four years.

Cast your vote carefully.

Fred Larsen
Oro-Medonte