“People shouldn’t be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people” – Alan Moore, V for Vendetta
I am blown away by the apparent pettiness of that sack of air the people of Ontario elected to guide their province. I haven’t lived in Toronto for over 40 years and at the time I loved it. I loved the downtown life style of Toronto as much as I loved the week long canoe camping trips in Algonquin Park. I loved the culture of the Toronto theatre district as much as I loved spending weekends at my roommates parents corn/dairy farm up by Peterborough. All in all it was a good time in Ontario.
I remember the sighs of relief of so many Ontario citizens when Bill Davis and the Ontario Progressive Conservative won their tenth consecutive government but tempered it with a “minority”. People were tired but frightened by the thought of change. It was a different, and many say much simpler, time. Change was slow but Ontario was booming.
This was the early days of learning to vote for the lesser of the evils rather than the best for the province. The Charter was still six years away and Toronto proper was still Toronto. It wasn’t an amalgamated super city yet. For me, it was a time of fun and life was just beginning to take on a more serious turn. I was living my life accordingly and the absences or presence of rights meant nothing to me. It wasn’t fully in my sphere of interest at the time but the shadows were creeping into the recesses of my mind.
I left Toronto in 1976 to return to Vancouver and never got past Calgary. I landed my first job of any real consequence with the Canadian Mental Health Association and entered the world of advocacy. I had, in my past, participated in some anti-Vietnam war protest marches, took some stands for early gay rights, been quietly involved in promoting a more comprehensive building code to acknowledge accessibility but had always seen those as activities that were a vehicle to meet women (yes I was pretty shallow when I was younger). Regardless I matured.
Since then I have become a serious and constant member of the activism community. I have always been very outspoken regarding disability rights but I have also supported ALL human rights. I sat on many committees in the late 70’s and into the 80’s studying the ramifications and benefits of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I was exposed early to the benefits such a Charter would have to marginalized members of the community. I have experienced and witnessed the benefits of the Charter to thousands of Canadians.
I have also been very aware of the danger of frivolous use of Section 33 of the Charter. The abuse of the ability to opt out of a Charter protection is an attack on the protection of all Canadians, not just the citizens of Ontario. The idea that a Premier who has an established history of abusive and bullying behaviour with the Toronto City Council. The idea that a Premier, who once condemned a a Toronto group home for the disabled, can now use the pretext of “protecting democracy” is abhorrent to me. The fact that the same man who failed in his bid to be mayor of the very city he is now attacking by using a dangerous component of the Charter to get his way is an insult to every Canadian who believes in human rights for all.
For someone who can’t get their own way through the legal channels to threaten the use of the “opt out” clause is a threat to the basics of Canadian democracy. When that same person is pursuing this as a way to thumb his nose at the court system is frightening. For a Premier, whose apparent reason, is his attempt to hide his contempt for our system of laws under the guise of protecting democracy is the most unCanadian concept I can imagine.
The courts are there to protect Canadians from the attempts of people like this Premier to promote, what can only be describe in my mind, as a “fascist moment”. It is time for all Canadians to stand up and #SpeakUp for real democracy, not simply accept some lame rhetoric thrown like a child bend on getting his own way. We need to start demanding responsible governments start ruling again and not just using a position of power to get even with people.
People need to wake up to the fact that politics is not a simple game of checkers, it is a complicated game of chess with moves and countermoves. Don’t be a checker (sheep) or a chess piece, be the player. You don’t have to be elected to be in the game but you need to be in the game if you value your protections.
Just one mans opinion…