GOLDSTEIN: Complacency, not chaos, the real danger for Ford

Some people who would never vote for Premier Doug Ford, led by our friends at the Toronto Star and other Liberals, are already predicting the public will soon tire of what they describe as Ford’s chaotic rule at Queen’s Park.

They believe “reasonable” voters will abandon Ford and the Progressive Conservatives in the 2022 election, because Ontario’s fiscally-conservative, socially-liberal electors don’t like confrontation and turmoil.

I have no idea of what will happen in 2022, but I do know Ontarians don’t mind confrontation if they feel it’s needed.

Over the past three decades, the province has been led by three premiers who came into power as disruptors of the status quo.

The first was David Peterson and his minority Liberal government from 1985-87, which ended a 42-year PC dynasty.

The second was Mike Harris and his “Common Sense Revolution” PC majority government from 1995 to 1999, ending a decade of NDP/Liberal rule.

The third is Ford, whose PC majority government just ended a 15-year Liberal dynasty.

Protesters were removed from the legislature when they refused to stop heckling Ontario Premier Doug Ford at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2018. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)

Peterson and Harris had major political confrontations in their first terms of office, just as Ford is having now.

And both Peterson and Harris were rewarded with majority governments when they ran for re-election, in large part because of the confrontations they provoked.

Peterson’s was with the province’s doctors, when he banned extra billing, Harris’ with public sectors unions and Toronto politicians, when he downsized government.

When Peterson and then NDP leader Bob Rae combined forces to bring down the Frank Miller PC government in 1985 (after Rae backed Peterson over Miller, when neither the Liberals nor PCs won a majority of the seats), Ontarians felt it was time for major changes after four decades of PC rule.

As a result, Ontarians supported Peterson’s confrontation with doctors over banning extra billing, and the “Liberal-NDP accord” he agreed to with Rae, containing major employment equity, environmental, labour and educational reforms.

( function() { pnLoadVideo( “videos”, “O7A0HEuecqE”, “pn_video_50872”, “”, “”, {“is_mobile”:””} ); } )();

Harris was popular with the public when he vowed, during his first term of office, that he would implement his agenda of tax cuts, workfare and downsizing government, even if protesters flattened every blade of grass at Queen’s Park, which they subsequently did.

Now there’s Ford, another disruptor of the status quo, taking on, among others, teacher unions by repealing the Liberals’ sex-ed curriculum, Toronto politicians by cutting the size of council and environmental activists by scrapping cap-and-trade, key elements of the Liberals’ Green Energy Act and challenging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax in court.

In that context, what actually doomed the Peterson and Harris governments was not their first terms of office in which they disrupted the status quo, but their second terms in which both of their governments lost their way, becoming arrogant and out-of-touch, while feathering their own nests.

( function() { pnLoadVideo( “videos”, “75xu2GIt2es”, “pn_video_441870”, “”, “”, {“is_mobile”:””} ); } )();

That’s the real political danger Ford faces going forward.

Not pursuing an activist agenda or confronting special interests that many Ontarians feel became all too powerful under the Liberals, but rather if Ford’s government loses it way and becomes as arrogant, out of touch and politically corrupt as the Liberal government it just replaced. 

That’s the true lesson of Ontario politics over the past three decades — that mainstream voters don’t object to confrontation if they believe it’s necessary.

Rather, the greatest danger comes when the new government stops being activist and becomes too much like the complacent, arrogant and politically-corrupt government it replaced.

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies