Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday August 23, 2023
Statue of Vulgarity
Ah, the grand spectacle of Doug Ford, Ontario’s Premier, striding onto the stage like a modern-day Statue of Liberty. In his version of the American dream, the Greenbelt isn’t a sanctuary of nature; it’s a promised land for immigrants and refugees seeking refuge from the housing shortage apocalypse. If this were a political reality show, it’d be a masterclass in spinning controversy into a potential lifeline for his political survival.
Ford’s script goes something like this: unless we bulldoze the Greenbelt, immigrants and refugees will be homeless, and we’ll be inundated with a tidal wave of resentment. It’s as if this green oasis has the power to summon housing out of thin air and guarantee smooth social integration. Day by day, as Ford digs himself a deeper pit of political quicksand, he melodramatically warns us: “If you dare save these pristine lands, brace yourself for a revolt!”
According to Ford’s grand narrative, he alone holds the key to preventing a tolerance meltdown for newcomers. It’s a speech that feels more like a fear-infused fairytale, a “chew up the Greenbelt or we’ll all suffocate under a housing shortage” bedtime story where foreigners are cast as the villains.
But let’s face it, even amidst the theatrics, Ford’s sinking to new lows. He’s the premier who cries wolf to rally support, claiming that saving the Greenbelt threatens the very fabric of Canadians’ immigration support. On August 9th, he declared that “failing to act” endangers our unwavering immigration love, a mere two days after the auditor general’s damning report on his government’s “green” giveaways. The teleprompter didn’t even get a chance to cool down.
It’s as if Ford’s bullhorn blasts from his bully pulpit are the embodiment of sophisticated political discourse. His recent speech to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario was like déjà vu from his “jobs for Ontarians first” performance in 2018. In the interim, Ford somehow caught on to the demand for foreign professionals in depopulating areas. It just took a bit of time for him to transition from parochial pitch to global perspective.
Remember when Ford turned his anger towards “illegal border-crossers,” wrongly blaming the feds for a “mess” that he claims was entirely their doing? Well, it seems old habits die hard, and this time he’s serving up a fresh batch of resentment pie.
Let’s be real here: the housing crisis isn’t a script penned by Ford’s overactive imagination. The issue predates any recent surge in immigration, a fact that Ford’s selective narrative conveniently omits. He clings to the Greenbelt giveaway as the magic key to unlocking new homes, despite his own advisors pointing in the opposite direction.
The reality is that repurposing available land can meet housing targets without turning the Greenbelt into bulldozer fodder. But no, Ford prefers a high-stakes game of pretend, where political will and economic ambition are in short supply, and skilled labor shortages become justifications for rising immigration targets.
Sure, historically there’s been a consensus on immigration’s benefits. But Ford’s musings aren’t about prudent policy; they’re about legitimizing blame-shifting for our own problems. Our housing issues aren’t caused by newcomers; they’re the product of internal miscalculations and misconceptions.
The environmental and agricultural sanctuaries that stand against urban sprawl aren’t the root of the problem or the magic solution. They’re distractions and temptations that Ford’s government wields in a dangerous game. The preservation of the Greenbelt is a bargaining chip for a Progressive Conservative government that has no problem painting a false choice between its survival and societal tolerance.
As Ford doubles down on his scandalous Greenbelt rezoning, developers are cashing in on windfall profits. It’s almost admirable how he wrangles immigrants and refugees into his speeches, like pawns in a political chess game. Doug Ford the Greenbelt-embracing Lady Liberty, beckoning newcomers to cookie-cutter neighbuorhoods, we can only marvel at the spectacle of it all. Welcome to the Ford Theatre of Politics, where the lines between reality and rhetoric blur into a snarky farce. (AI) – Cartoon published in the Hamilton Spectator and the Toronto Star.
Give us your wetlands, your greenbelt’s grace,
Your untouched vistas, where nature finds its space
Fill these spaces with cookie-cutter homes and big garage doors
Let neighbourhoods flourish where community soars