originally published October 4, 2018 updated November 14, 2019 By: B.R. Meston
From the moment that Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced from his mother’s basement that he was running for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party—I knew that Ontario was in trouble.
His announcement came as a result of the controversy surrounding the sexual misconduct allegations levelled against Patrick Brown—allegations that seem all too familiar in the era brought about by the #MeToo movement.
Anybody that remembered the tumultuous days of Rob Ford, the brother of Doug Ford and former mayor of Toronto, knew that if Doug Ford were to become the Premier of Ontario, we were in for four years of chaos.
There was no doubt in my mind that Ford would win the Ontario election. I had the same sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when the provincial election was called as I did when Donald Trump became the president of the United States.
I knew that people like me who have disabilities and people who experience poverty would be the first to be targeted, along with other minorities. On election night, I was crying when they declared a Progressive Conservative majority.
But since June 8, we have seen a Premier who believes he is “the king of Ontario.”
He has rolled back plans to increase social assistance, cancelled much needed funding to repair schools, cancelled climate change initiatives, and updated the sex education curriculum to arguably appease the homophobic social conservatives in his party. This forced many transgender students to use the power of the courts to make their voices heard.
The final straw for me came when Ford made the shocking announcement that he would use section 33 in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms—otherwise known as the notwithstanding clause—to overrule a court decision.
The court decision said he could not implement his plan to cut the size of Toronto’s city council nearly in half in the middle of an election season.
But, what was most frightening to me was Ford’s statement that he would use the notwithstanding clause again if the courts ruled against him again. I knew that action had to be taken.
We, as young people, are today’s leaders. It will be us that take the reins of power one day, and we need to speak up now for what is right.
We have seen young people take action in recent months for many social issues—including gun violence in the United States, environmental justice (which really boils down to climate change), the repeal of the sex-ed curriculum, police brutality against Black Americans, and the deportation and separation of children from their families.
We need to show Ford that young people are watching and listening, and will not stand by while he tramples on the rights of everyday Canadians.
We do not support a Premier who cares more about his vendetta against the city of Toronto than he does about dealing with the real and serious issues facing Ontario today.
We will make our voices heard to demonstrate that we are here, we are listening, and we want action to stop this bully of a Premier and his reckless agenda.
I do not need to reinvent the wheel. We need to speak up. We do not have the luxury of time. Our province and our country is at risk, and it is our duty to act.