Doug Ford did something groundbreaking when he won his provincial majority this year that made it a watershed moment for this province, and possibly this entire nation: he won a majority without courting Toronto.
Donald Trump won the presidency by bypassing California and New York, and those states have been fuming ever since. They think they are superior, cunning, and the centre of gravity and Trump proved they were just two states in a nation of fifty.
Ford did the same thing to Toronto. He humbled them. He proved they are just a city in a province full of cities and towns. You win some battles. You lose some battles.
But when you lose what is seen as a critical battle, but still handily win the war, you reveal a reality that trumps truisms, and that’s what Ford’s win actually did.
We now know that Toronto isn’t the be all and end all of getting your majority.
In fact, his majority was bigger than the former Toronto-based premier Kathleen Wynne’s when she got her majority in the previous election.
This victory altered the centre of gravity in this province. Hamilton, another big city, also went NDP and were yet again shut out. The big guns became the little guns that misfired.
Toronto is now experiencing what countless Ontario cities and towns have experienced for years: not having an actual in with the reigning regime. No premier. No cabinet ministers. No MPPs. They are now alone in the wilderness with the ineffectual NDP who have no means to pander to them. Hamilton is used to the political pauperism and don’t see anything wrong with their losing strategy, but Toronto is another story.
The biggest blunder an electorate makes is by falling for the notion that you are supposed to vote ideologically. That is not the breakfast of champions.
You vote with pragmatism. If your representative is in the government and a cabinet minister, your fortunes fare better than if you voted for the losing team. When Hamilton used to do that, they thrived. When they lost the pragmatists, they became impoverished, and now are praying that weed will save them the way Niagara Falls and Windsor thought a casino would save them.
Anyone can promise you the moon, but unless they actually have a chance to arrive and then deliver, you are wasting your vote. The end.
And Toronto blew their vote in a spectacular fashion, and now what has happened all along to other cities has now reached them, and they still don’t know what hit them.
They were always a high maintenance city because everyone falsely believed that if you didn’t capture Toronto, you weren’t part of the game.
And then Doug Ford waltzed in, laughed, and proved it wrong.
His guerilla-style parachuting in an unlikely PC leadership race sucker-punched Hogtown’s elite, and even I didn’t think he’d win that race, given Brian Mulroney’s daughter Caroline was running and had the name and the connections to win. She flubbed; Ford didn’t, and he won.
And in a short time, he took the province, and Toronto never saw it coming or thought what would happen if someone they haughtily tore to shreds by their media for years was in charge of their fate.
But Ford changing the province’s centre of gravity did more than make Toronto’s elite have bricks in their designer pants: his victory greatly weakened the Toronto Star.
If Toronto is just another Ontario city, then the Star is just another local newspaper. They lost clout. They are not the essential chroniclers as they brand themselves to be. They are just like the people in the small towns they ran away from the first chance they could.
They could not dethrone the late Rob Ford. They could not stop Doug Ford from getting a majority.
And now that they are just another local newspaper, their clout diminishes even more.
Their non-stop screaming over Ford’s reducing Toronto city-hall from designer 45 seats to the off-the-rack 25 seats is a humiliating blow to the newspaper. The subtext is simple: council was bloated, and an inflated council means its value was vastly overvalued. If the Star went along with the higher number without question, it casts a light on more than just their credibility — but their motives as well.
It is the same as if a teenager is used to a lavish allowance, but then step-parent sees the huge family debt and then slashes that allowance to a modest amount. It may not be a big savings, but it is a signal that the time for unrealistic hedonistic pursuits is over. You may fancy yourself as the next rock star, but your guitar playing stinks, you’re always warbling the same old unoriginal song about your alleged greatness that no one else wants to listen to, and now it is time to hunker down, stop making demands for more money, and get your own house in order as you pull your own weight.
But the brat is going to scream about how “unfair” it all is, no matter what.
And leading the temper tantrum is the Star with this amusing column.
They are trying every manipulative trick to tell the little people how horrible it is to live within your means. It is just so, like, unfair, and…just déclassé.
They are trying to appeal to women by feeling sorry for Caroline Mulroney, who, despite no previous political experience and is a rookie MPP, has a very posh position within the government.
Their “argument” is that she campaigned on things that go opposite to what the premier is doing now.
That’s called having a job. I may work for a company and vie for the top position, but if I don’t get it, I still go to work there, and do what I am paid to do, even if I would run things differently.
It’s called life.
You often work for a company that gets bought by another one, and things change: you either go with the flow, or you find another job elsewhere. This is the reality for countless people in their everyday lives.
Kathleen Wynne did many things differently than her predecessor Dalton McGuinty, meaning his way was not her way. She didn’t take her toys and go home, but when the top spot was free, she ran for leader and won — and there were Grits in that party who would have done things differently if they had the job. The Star’s argument is silly and reaching.
But then the column keeps appealing to elitist authority as if that meant something: her dad doesn’t like what Ford did. Big deal; I don’t like what Brian Mulroney did to this country, either.
And Bill Davis doesn’t approve? Old school bristling at new school? Knock me over with a feather, what a shock.
But the silliest nitpick comes here:
When the premier demonizes judges as political appointees who dare not judge him, let alone overrule him — claiming that an elected premier reigns supreme until the next vote, free from judicial scrutiny — does the attorney general not caution him, counter him, or contradict him?
Let me see if I have this right: the judge editorialized the legislation, which is not what he is paid to do, presumed facts and motives not in evidence, patronized the premier like a schoolboy, and issued a decree with no merit that would have been overturned on appeal, and that’s just fine and not a waste of time and money? We don’t question that ruling because it panders to Toronto? Really?
But we throw a fit that Ford shut down the games and moved ahead with something he is within his rights to do?
If Caroline Mulroney truly believes in her vision and that she would make a good premier, she’ll tough it out. This is the perfect education for a rookie. You don’t get a clear path in life: you have to fight tooth and nail for every step that is worth something. You don’t learn or grow if everything is handed to you on a silver platter. You grow when everything works against you.
But only if you see your own shortcomings, acknowledge them, and then change.
Not by howling and whining that the big meany premier said you can’t have endless helpings from the goody bag.
In other words, know your place. It isn’t always at the top or at the centre of attention where you get everything your own way with no consideration of how everyone else is doing.
Kathleen Wynne made the fatal error of giving Toronto all the mother love and attention any city would be blessed to have — all while creating the largest non-sovereign debt in the world, and even gave Hamilton that generous lifeline of basic income. Hogtown and the Hammer both repaid her by voting for Andrea Horwath. You made your bed, children.
You showed your worth, your gratitude, your savvy, and your loyalty.
You served as your own lesson why it no longer pays to pander to Toronto.
At least Ford learned that lesson.
Too bad the Star hasn’t…