A short while ago I had a meeting with constituents at the home of an individual I’ve been casually acquainted with for a good while. As the meeting wrapped up a friend of mine noted the beautiful woodwork that was displayed around the home. In the car, he and I continued to discuss how incredible the gentleman’s work is. I then pointed out that it’s no wonder the guy produces such awesome pieces when you consider how much the fellow has invested in professional grade tools and equipment. He has the very best saws, lathes, routers, planers…you name it.
At that point my friend thankfully set me straight saying, “It’s not the tools that a person has at hand that produce the quality work; it’s the woodworker holding the tools that makes the most of the equipment. If the craftsman doesn’t manipulate the tools properly, professional tools won’t make a spot of difference.” Of course, he’s absolutely correct. A tool is only as good as the craftsman that holds it.
During the long drive back home after dropping my friend off, I was listening to a talk show in which some callers were complaining about protesters of various matters here in Ontario. In general the gripe was what a waste of time and resources such protests are and they inconvenience those who have no stake or interest in the issue. Why should the public have to pay for all the security and other stuff necessary? They rhymed off protests over concerns such as changes to funding for families of children with Autism, changes to our healthcare system, post secondary school funding and changes in our public education system.
To be perfectly blunt, such callers are wrong headed about this.
The principles of democratic government are to elect representatives who commit to protecting and promoting the rights, interests and welfare of all people. The word democracy comes from the Greek word demos, meaning “common people” and kratos, meaning “strength.” A fundamental element of all democratic systems is that each and every individual must feel free to participate in the political community’s self government. Democracy also includes the fundamental value of political, legal and moral equality of every citizen. In a democracy there is no such thing as a second class citizen. Further, the democratic principle of political equality is that no one is born with the right to rule others; and no one is born with the obligation to political obedience.
In a democracy, it is a citizen’s right, and perhaps even duty, to ensure their elected representatives are not only aware of and understand their principles, values and beliefs, but that they also act upon the people’s wishes. As such, public protesting is an effective means of personal expression of shared beliefs and principles. And of course, there is a very clear difference between protesting and rioting. But rioting is a different matter and is not what is happening in Ontario.
This week, the government released their budget estimate which is actually a detailed look at Doug Ford’s spending plans. The budget provides a clearer picture of where Doug Ford is making deep cuts and just how badly they will hurt Ontario families. Since Ford’s budget was released, the cuts just keep coming and coming. We’ve learned about cuts to child care, to libraries, to public health — service after service that families count on to build a good life. The detailed estimates have confirmed the tally of wreckage so far, and revealed that Doug Ford isn’t done swinging his budget axe, hacking away at frontline services.
- Ford is cutting $181 million from the urban and regional transportation funding that pays for highways and subways
- Cancer Care Ontario is being cut by $11.6 million
- Far from fixing the Ontario Autism Program, the line for autism programming is about the same as Wynne’s last budget, while the overall support for individuals and families is cut by $144 million
- Ford is cutting the Ontario Provincial Police budget by $46.3 million
- Ford is cutting nearly $100 million from the publicly funded drugs program
- Ford is gutting the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) by $222 million and Ontario Works (OW) by $300 million, further signalling that those that can’t work due to illness or disability, like cancer, may be left to fend for themselves
- Ford is slashing poverty reduction efforts in half
- Ford is ripping $413 million right out of the bank accounts of college and university students, cutting financial assistance by that amount
So, when the people of Ontario choose to express their thoughts on the directions that their government is heading, they are simply exercising their right and even fulfilling their democratic and civic duty. The people are simply helping the government to understand that the direction they are taking us does not fit with the values and principles of a strong majority of citizens.
Going back to the original analogy, one could say that the people of Ontario are the woodworkers and the government is the tool. It is up to all citizens to use their best judgement, wisdom and skill in employing/empowering the tools… they elected nearly a year ago. This is why the NDP is proud to stand with the families of children with Autism and stand with the post secondary students that face missing out on following their education dreams and potential prolonged financial burdens. We are proud to stand with the elementary and secondary students, their parents and the teachers as they try to tell Doug Ford that increasing class sizes and adding mandatory e-learning courses is going to cause educational hardship and loss that will follow our students for a lifetime. And this is why we stand with health care workers and long-term care workers who are speaking out, asking for the funding policies and legislation necessary to provide the treatment, care and security that our loved ones need and deserve.
As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.