Ontario is the most populous of Canada’s ten provinces, with about 13.5 million souls, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the population of the country, most of whom live within a one or two hour drive from the border with the United States. The province has the nation’s capital, Ottawa, as well as its largest city, Toronto. So what happens in Ontario affects much of the rest of the country.
As our American friends may have read, in the recent provincial election the Progressive Conservatives were swept to a resounding victory, trouncing the socialist Liberals after their confident fifteen-year reign, now reduced to a mere seven seats in the 154 seat legislature, which has not happened to the Liberal Party since Confederation in 1867. This from their comfortable 55-seat majority before the election, which gave the radical Liberal premier, Kathleen Wynne, and her cabinet, power to do anything they pretty much pleased. Strangely, Ms. Wynne predicted their loss a few days before the election, but nothing of this Carthaginian magnitude. Their puny seven seats is one shy even of “official party status,” which puts them more or less at the whim of the Conservatives, under their nemesis and Premier-elect, Doug Ford, the brother of former embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford (who died of cancer in 2014). Both brothers proclaimed themselves, Trump-style, “for the people,” promising to slash government waste and implement policies for the common man, rather than the connected elites.
But the damage may be done.
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Professor Jordan Peterson described Kathleen Wynne as the “most dangerous woman in Canada,” an ideologue, far more to the left than your average Liberal, whose maudlin compassion masks a deeply sinister agenda. Indeed. She is a self-proclaimed lesbian, coming out, as the saying goes, at the tender age of 37, abandoning her husband and three children to enter into a union, of sorts, with someone of the same sex, two months after such “marriage” was legalized in Canada in 2005. Since then she has been an unabashed promoter of homosexual and other “rights” of a deviant culture.
Here is just some of the Liberal baggage that Premier-elect Ford inherits:
In 2016, the Liberals foisted a pornographic and scandalous sex-education program upon all students in public schools, which presents such vices as masturbation, intimate anatomical exploration, contraception, pre-marital sex and gender fluidity as perfectly normal. The program was authored in part by a colleague of Wynne, the former Ontario Deputy Minister of Education who was convicted in 2015 of producing child pornography. Only homeschoolers and those in private institutions can escape this indoctrination; one hopes that Ford keeps his promise to replace this disastrous sex-ed curriculum.
Before that, in 2012, the Liberals made any form of discrimination based on “transgenderism” illegal, and in 2015, they banned psychotherapy to minors for homosexuality or gender dysphoria (unless, of course, it was to encourage them). Any violations of these vague laws, even using the wrong pronoun on the wrong day, could land you a hefty fine, get you fired or, if you resist, jail time. Peterson notes that the worst places for these totalitarian laws are universities, which are meant to be havens of academic freedom in the truth, now reduced to mills brainwashing students into mindless conformism.
And speaking of higher education, the Liberals also made tuition at public universities more-or-less free, one may suppose so that no young minds escape being coddled and indoctrinated well into their twenties. (On a side note, this makes things rather more difficult for any private educational institutions, such as the one where I teach.)
Just this year, the Liberals outlawed any form of demonstration within 50 meters of an abortion facility, and this includes counseling, prayer, or even lingering too long wearing a “pro-life” t-shirt.
Angain this year, by legal fiat, they raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour, putting immense pressure on businesses, further reducing economic productivity.
As to productivity, the Liberals’ Green Energy Plan, with a save-the-planet policy that knew no rational bounds, which funneled billions of tax dollars into wind and solar power, all at exorbitant payback for the providers, but with little productivity; electricity rates—of course—have soared proportionately. This, along with the ever-increasing tax burden, has prompted corporations to flee Ontario as a financially toxic place to do business. A province that was once an economic powerhouse is now crumbling under a debt load of over 340 billion dollars, with a per capita burden four-and-a-half times that of utterly bankrupt California, along with continued soaring unemployment.
We are not even done. As they were on the verge of their collapse, the Liberals were planning on legislating exorbitant universal daycare and pharmacare programs, with the government taking over the cost and responsibility not only of raising our children, but also of providing all our medical drugs, from cradle to grave. What else would be left for a near-complete socialist take-over of the entire scope of our lives, except perhaps universally funded lute lessons? (But I’m sure you could find some at the now-free university down the road.)
Where does it all end?
Well, we may hope, right here. The socialist agenda has a whole host of unintended consequences, not least economic, and these did the most to ensure the Liberal downfall. As Margaret Thatcher once quipped, the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. Ontarians, and Canadians, in the main, do not seem to care much for conserving moral principles (alas), but they do care about preserving their money, and Ms. Wynne discovered the poison of touching their wallets too deeply.
So this result is a mixed blessing. Doug Ford is still married to the wife of his youth, is raising four daughters, and seems to have run the family business prosperously. So far, much better than Ms. Wynne. But he is not a savior, nor a philosopher-king. He does not come across as deeply read or educated, and his rhetorical skills, to put things mildly, need polishing. Whatever Ford’s personal views, he is also not a full conservative in any public sense, avoiding fractious social-moral questions like the plague (see his jettisoning of outspokenly conservative candidate Tanya Granic-Allen). He is still mulling whether to march in the Gay Pride Parade, and seems determined to keep the peace, focusing mostly on financial conservatism.
The problem with this policy, as we have seen with the Republicans south of the border, is that prosperity is impossible without a strong and robust moral foundation. If the law facilitates such evils as no-fault divorce, widespread pornography, fornication, infidelity and adultery, along with a denigration of the vocation to motherhood, funneling most of the young women into full-time “career” paths, then the destruction of the family, the bedrock of economic and societal stability, is all but assured. When we add easy access to, even fully funded, contraception and abortion, we should not be surprised when we see fewer and fewer children each year; and how does one build an economy without families, given that the few people who are left are aging, displaced, atomized, uprooted, and aimless?
We can hope that this vote, which is more an attempt to lay blame, more anti-Wynne than pro-Ford, may prompt some at least to make the link between economic and moral conservatism, i.e., that they form an integral whole, or fall apart. Sometimes lessons must be learned the hard way, a posteriori, as Ontarians have discovered with the debacle left after decade-and-a-half of socialist Liberal governance under Wynne.
At the end of the day, we should not place our trust in man, nor our political leaders, for true conservatism is not essentially a matter of politics and law but, as John Paul II consistently taught, of culture, of all those things a community holds dear: religion, family, morality, literature, traditions, manners and mores. Such customs, as Thomas puts it, have the force of law, abolish law and interpret law (cf., I-II, 97.3), and their origin is mostly from the ground up, ultimately from individual persons who decide to go against the grain, to fight the good fight, and to live as they should. Although law does have a pedagogical influence, it is custom that is far more enduring.
Politics is therefore downstream of culture, and Doug Ford’s victory may signify something changing here in Canada. We can hope that he in turn provides some semblance of a judicial framework that facilitates sanity, virtue, and goodness, or at least one that does not hinder or eviscerate them, as the Liberals have done. If the “Progressive Conservatives” offer even a small step in that direction, emphasizing more the “conservative” than the “progressive,” who knows, Ontario may well become, if not great again, at least a lot better than it might have been.