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  • mmantha-co

February 23, 2024

Git-r-Done :

Now playing in Queen’s Park

One might think that since I spend so much time in Toronto week after week, I’d take advantage of the many forms of entertainment available: music, movies, stand-up comedy shows, sports and live entertainment. But the truth is I seldom venture out to such venues. In the evenings, with the news and sports channels on in the background, I turn to my cell phone and laptop to follow up on all the day’s messages and phone calls received. By the time I finish, I’m ready to hit the sack to rise early for my regular workout each morning.

Recently, to my chagrin, I discovered that I apparently hold season tickets for live theatre in Toronto. I say to my chagrin because it’s not a show I want to see. Worse is that I will see new scenes play out before me each day in the Legislature.

I say this because in preparing for the session to resume at Queen’s Park after the winter break, I reviewed what bills and legislation were on the horizon. I read that the Ford government was introducing an omnibus bill called the Get It Done Act. My assistant, Max, heard me saying out loud, “What? Git-r-Done!? Is Premier Ford now turning to Larry the Cable Guy for political and policy advice?”

There was a time not so long ago when titling legislation reflected thoughtfulness, sobriety and class. When a bill is introduced, it should bring an air of resolve, sincerity and confidence as it will impact many thousands of lives or businesses. To stoop to titling bills that are blatant self-serving political promotion, patronage, or propaganda does the institution of government a disservice. And if you are not certain how the title of the above bill is politically self-serving to the Ford government, just look up the Ontario Conservative Party’s 2022 campaign slogan. “Let’s Get it Done.”

Politics is serious business, not fun and games. People’s livelihoods, well-being, and even health depend on politicians to get it right. If only Premier Ford’s theatrics were limited to just the titling of bills. Unfortunately, politicians nowadays seem more focused on campaigning and use theatrics of every description to do this all year round. Their attention should be focused on governing today, not on popularity polls and being elected tomorrow. 

Of late, the Conservatives’ entire manner of governing resembles the plot of a season of the old TV night-time soap series, Dallas. Intrigue, suspense, drama and scandal galore. The conservatives write a plot and script. They do it fast and, as much as possible, limit consultation with stakeholders. Then, they put their show on stage to see how Ontarians react. If the reaction is significantly adverse, they return to the drawing board for a plot and script rewrite, followed by one of Doug Ford’s now common walk-backs.

For example, think of the Greenbelt scandal that was all the rage recently. There was a great public outroar after revelations of improprieties that led to several cabinet resignations and ministry official firings. Doug Ford had no choice but to do a rewrite and walk back his $8.2 billion Greenbelt swap.

Examples of other plot rewrites by the Ford government include:

·         Recalling new blue vehicle licenses that are not visible at night

·         Closing public playgrounds during pandemic

·         Retroactive cuts to public health

·         Use of notwithstanding clause to impose a contract on CUPE education workers

·         Reversal of Bill 124, which unconstitutionally capped public service workers, nurses, teachers, etc., contracts to 1 percent

A true showperson can’t keep using the same old tricks and the same old storyline. If you want to keep your audience involved and keep them guessing what’s next, you have to mix up your repertoire. One of Premier Ford’s tactics is using omnibus bills to achieve this. Omnibus bills facilitate multiple legislative changes under the guise of expedience. But what Omnibus bills really do is bury a pile of unrelated changes under one cover. The hope is that by making the bill so jam-packed and cumbersome, no one will have time to go through and read the fine print before members are forced to vote on the bill. The Get It Done Act 2024 is a prime example of this. It includes:

·         Streamlining the environmental assessment process

·         Banning tolls on Ontario highways

·         Automatic renewal of vehicle and photo ID cards

·         Mandatory holding of provincial referendums before new taxes can be created

·         Referendum on whether Ontarians want a carbon tax implemented

·         Changes to the Official Plan Adjustments Act

My question is, if a government has confidence in the quality of their legislation, why would they want to hide it or try to slip it through unnoticed – like in an omnibus bill? And, just like titling legislation, the contents of a bill should reflect thoughtfulness, sobriety and class. One would think a government would be proud to let the voters and even political critics see the government’s resolve, confidence and pride. Would a farmer want to slip in a bunch of bruised or malformed items buried in a bushel of produce? Of course not. Ontario food producers have much more pride in their work to pull something like that. So why would a government bury what it is doing for the people of the province if it believes in what it is proposing?

It seems that when it comes to constructing policies, legislation and governing, the objective should not be to just Git-r-Done but rather to be methodic, thoughtful and Get-It-Right – the first time. I kind of wish I could just return the season’s tickets for the show directed by Premier Ford. I am not content with the scenes I see unfolding across the aisle. Like most Ontarians, I want to see a premium-level show with high-quality performances featuring a well-established plot, including transparent, meaningful dialogue by a government that attunes its ears to what its audience expects.  

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 my new address, or by phone Toll-free at 1-800-831-1899.       

Michael Mantha MPP/député       


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