Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 2, 2023
Doug Ford’s Questionable Choices: Staples Deal Raises Concerns
Premier Doug Ford’s recent decision to ink exclusive deals with the American office giant, Staples, for Service Ontario accommodations has unfolded as a quirky comedy, leaving many Ontarians scratching their heads and, well, reaching for the nearest thesaurus.
In a move that could be mistaken for a spelling bee gone awry, the Premier seems to have chosen “sole” tenders over the more inclusive, competitive variety. Perhaps he’s a fan of the solitary life, but Ontarians are left wondering if there’s a secret Staples-only handshake that grants entry into the hallowed halls of Service Ontario.
Now, one might think that after the Greenbelt fiasco, Ford would be avoiding further misadventures. But no, here we are, witnessing the migration of Service Ontario outlets into the welcoming embrace of Staples, an American corporation with its own unique flair for spelling and a fondness for Z’s in words where our Canadian ‘S’ once stood proudly.
Opposition critics, led by the ever-vigilant New Democrat MPP Tom Rakocevic, have raised concerns about the conspicuous absence of a competitive bidding process. It seems the Ford administration has a habit of dodging transparency like it’s a pothole-ridden road during spring thaw.
The linguistic tango between Canadian and American spellings adds an extra layer of comedy to the situation. While Minister Todd McCarthy is trying to convince us that the move is part of a three-year pilot project that will save about $1 million, the public is left wondering if the savings are hiding out in the extra ‘u’ in “colour” and the switch from ‘re’ to ‘er’ in “centre.”
And let’s not forget our Liberal friends, who, in their quest for accountability, have asked Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office to analyze the costs of retrofitting Staples centres — to be paid for by the province. If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that no spelling bee is complete without a few unexpected expenses and a touch of whimsy.
But, in all seriousness, the real question remains: Can Staples deliver Service Ontario accommodations with the same efficiency as a Canadian double-double? Or will our beloved maple syrup be replaced by gallons of American-style corn syrup in this bureaucratic caffeine-fuelled saga?
As the Ford administration continues its modus operandi of first making policy announcements and only later revealing the business case, we’re left to wonder if this is a governance strategy or just a script from a classic Canadian sitcom — “Service Ontario and Staples: The Unlikely Duo.”
In the end, if Premier Ford wants to convince Ontarians that this isn’t just another episode in a sitcom, maybe it’s time to slow down, adopt competitive bidding as a matter of course, and invite the public into the decision-making process. (AI)