Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday June 5, 2019
Cabinet must stop enabling Ford’s incompetence
An enabler, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “a person or thing that makes something possible.”
In light of the Ontario government’s obsession with alcohol, it’s also instructive to turn to literature on the psychology of addiction, which further defines an enabler as someone who “passively permits or unwittingly encourages” destructive behaviour and often “feels powerless to prevent it.”
And that brings us to the 20 men and women who were elected by Ontario voters a year ago this Friday and subsequently named to Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet.
When a series of unlikely circumstances collided to make Ford leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, those who had experienced the Ford brand of governing by chaos rather than consensus at Toronto City Hall were incredulous.
If he can’t be trusted to run a city, how can he run the entire province?
Don’t worry, his supporters said, Ford will shake things up a bit but he won’t do anything too reckless because Queen’s Park isn’t anything like city hall and the seasoned politicians who will join him at the cabinet table will temper the worst of his tendencies.
In short, they’ll keep him in check.
But, as we’ve seen, it’s been the other way around.
The City of Toronto, for all the seeming messiness of its council meetings, is full of independent thinkers.
It’s under the party system that Ford’s brand of reckless governing has been able to spread like measles through an unvaccinated community.
With the help of his chief of staff, Dean French, Ford has brought all those experienced and capable politicians who were supposed to lift him up, down to his level. A level that surely the likes of Caroline Mulroney and Christine Elliott, who had ambitions to lead the party, could scarcely have imagined.
As attorney general, Mulroney acquiesced to Ford’s rush to hit the nuclear button with the “notwithstanding” clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in his vindictive move to cut Toronto city council in half with the municipal election already underway. And the government has churned out legislation to shield itself from the financial liabilities that go with its desire to tear up contracts.
Ford may want to use powers that are rarely used for good reason, as though they’re free candy for the taking, but the adults in the building are supposed to know better.
While everything may begin with Ford and his unelected advisers, it can’t come to pass without the attorney general and the rest of the cabinet.
One of them, Environment Minister Rod Phillips, once said he was running for the Ontario PCs to be part of a “positive, inclusive” team.
How is that going?
Finance Minister Vic Fedeli happily adds and subtracts billions from the provincial deficit depending, it seems, on the day of the week and whether Ford is in a mood to attack the past Liberal government or tout his success as a leader and general good guy.
Under Ford, cabinet ministers jump up like trained seals, clap wildly and support the unsupportable with canned lines that don’t pass even a cursory sniff test.
Did they all agree to check their brains and backbones at the door to cabinet?
Health Minister Christine Elliott, Education Minister Lisa Thompson, Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark, and Children and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod all lurch from one half-baked policy to the next depending on which way Ford Nation winds blow.
Some of these cabinet ministers may want to tell themselves they’re powerless to stop this and that’s par for the course with enablers. But it’s not true. As Oxford tells us, enablers make things possible.
Some of Ford’s cabinet might also still be imagining a future for themselves where memoirs are written about their time in politics. They should start thinking about how they want the 2018-2022 chapter to read.
While Ontarians are gasping at how Year One under the Ford government has gone, and holding their breath for what’s to come in Year Two, his cabinet ministers can — and should — do more than that.
Those 20 men and women can ask themselves whether they want to continue to be enablers or whether they want to relocate their spines and try for something more. (Hamilton SpectatorEditorial) https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/9408338-editorial-cabinet-must-stop-enabling-ford-s-incompetence/