News From The Park

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I learned long ago that one of the hardest thing to achieve and the very easiest to lose is respect.  Our parents, teachers and others who are involved in our personal development as a person start to teach us this lesson from an early age.  And in my mind, it is one of those lessons that is fundamentally true no matter where you come from or what your station is in life.  I know I learned this lesson and took it to heart as a young man.  The thing of it is, no matter how hard our parents and significant others in our lives try to teach this lesson, not everyone actually learns it.

My mom was right teaching me that to get respect, you first have to give it.  Without a word of lie, whenever I say or hear that word, I hear Aretha Franklin’s musical voice ringing out her famous R-E-S-P-E-C-T hit song, and I get such an urge to bop my head and shoulders to the tune.

But I digress, let’s cut to the chase.

I pride myself in fulfilling my roll as an MPP demonstrating compassion and respect for all constituents and Ontario voters as well as my colleagues sitting on the government side of the legislature.  Therefore the message below is delivered with continued respect although I am dismayed with events as they unfold.  As I write this week’s column Doug Ford has recalled MPPs to the Legislature for an emergency session to ram through in just a couple or three days, legislation that is a blatant attempt to tramp on Ontarians right to freedom of speech.  What Doug Ford is displaying is a knee jerk reflex response to the June 8th Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling that struck down a major part of his changes to the Elections Finances Act.

Clearly this infuriated the Premier so much that he has decided that if the courts say he is breaking the rules (law) he’s just going to bully his way to pass the law.  To do this, Doug Ford is pushing the nuclear button and invoking Section 33 of the Notwithstanding Clause from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The Notwithstanding Clause allows governments to exempt their laws from certain sections of the Charter.

It is important to note here that, since the Charter was passed in 1982, no other Ontario Premier has even considered invoking the Notwithstanding Clause.  And once used, it is, as they say, a slippery slope indeed for potential use again and again.

Ford’s new legislation limits spending by third party groups, months prior to a provincial election.  The limits apply to organizations such as parent associations, working family organizations, environmental groups, doctors and nurses associations, unions, coalitions and any other sort of organization that wants to inform Ontario voters about the policies and record of any political party as well as the government.

Canada’s democracy is something to be treasured.  It is something that many thousands of men and women died to protect in WWI and WWII.  That is why our Royal Canadian Legions go to such lengths to ensure that Canadians never forget what our brave men and women fought and died for.  They gave their lives, quite literally, to protect our rights and freedoms.

Ontarians must have the right to exercise their freedom of speech.  We must ensure we have the right to speak out to share our knowledge, experience, concerns and views.  People have a right to be informed about what the record of previous governments as well as all opposition parties.  They have a right to access information to help them make intelligent, informed decisions about who is going to lead the people of Ontario for the next four years.

Ontario is trying to climb its way out of an absolutely horrific pandemic and healthcare crisis.  Thousands have died –needlessly in some cases – alone and afraid.  People need to know what was done correctly, what was not done correctly, and they need to know why thousands of Canadians died before their time.  Ordinary Ontarians have been there every step of the way.  Every last one of us is a witness.  We have an incredible collective knowledge, understanding and insight.  Families of long-term care residents, parents of children with autism, teachers and school communities, working people, environmental advocates, and frontline health care workers have the right to share what they feel, and know.  They have a right to free speech.

Doug Ford’s legislation to muzzle Ontarians from organizing and speaking out is quite simply a blatantly desperate attempt to muzzle the very people he’s supposed to serve.  It’s just not right!

Andrea Horwath said it best.  “It’s clearer than ever that Doug Ford’s top priority is to ‘protect the king.’  At a time when Canada is in mourning from horrific tragedies in Kamloops and London, and still battling a pandemic, Doug Ford is worried most about Doug Ford.  He wants to crush dissent.  He doesn’t tolerate criticism from the people he hurts with his big cuts and bad choices.”

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.  In reality, Doug Ford does not care at all about the ‘little guy’, no matter what he says.  He has proven this time and time again since taking office.  Doug Ford cares only about Doug Ford and will do whatever it takes to be re-elected.  Even if that means stomping on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and stripping Ontarians of their right to freedom of speech.

New Democrats are committed to doing all in our power to oppose Ford’s attack on the rights of all citizens of Ontario.

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.

Michael Mantha MPP/député

Algoma-Manitoulin

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