We don’t do pipeline protests or firewalls. Our students don’t march through the downtown banging pots, and our Premiers don’t have rap sheets. Caucus revolts are nonexistent, the public rolls their eyes at striking workers, and alleging that the government committed an illegal act will get you sued for $2 million.
In Ontario, we don’t talk about our problems for fear that we may offend someone or sow disunity. And it is disastrous.
This is a place where the residents of Elliott Lake refused to complain about their shopping mall, which was built in such a way that patrons and business owners were stepping around buckets that they’d placed on the floor to handle the leaks from the roof. Eventually, the mall collapsed and two people were killed, after which it became OK to discuss publicly.
This is a place where sports teams know that they don’t have to win a championship or even make the playoffs to get hugely paid. The fans are comically oversensitive about the fact that the Leafs have gone 48 years without a Stanley Cup, and will line up to dismiss people who point this out as griefers and haters. They’ll toss their jerseys on the ice and then come back for tomorrow night’s game because not buying a ticket is going way too far.
This is a place where ex-Premier Bill Davis is treated like a God walking upon the Earth because he is a living reminder of some long-forgotten Golden Age free of strife and worry. Nobody talks about how Davis ended this epoch and inflicted a wound on the PC Party of Ontario that still hasn’t fully healed by... extending funding to Catholic schools.
A stiff Upper Canadian upper lip can’t hide how far Ontario has fallen, as a manufacturing power and as a destination for business. High energy prices force companies to pack up and leave. RIM is barely clinging to life.
I love this province. But I hate that talking honestly about its shortcomings is looked at as rude and unrefined.
I hate that passionate people from all sides of the political spectrum are marginalized for being too loud.
The screw-ups of the opposition parties can only go so far towards explaining why the Ontario Liberals get pass after pass for the wrongs they do. Ontarians are terrified of political change, invoking the names of Mike Harris and Bob Rae as though they were divine punishments.
There is a case to be made for Rob Ford as a manifestation of this province’s collective unconscious. Like Godzilla rising from the radioactive Pacific, he embodied the rage and abandonment of thousands of Ontarians who were told their feelings didn’t matter because they were lucky just to be living here.
But Steve Paikin doesn’t think we should be angry about all this here in Ontairy-airy-airy-o. He, too pines for the Bill Davis days, and wishes our politicians could just forget about all this needless argy-bargy and hug it out.
Well, I have news for Mr. Paikin. This monster is not going back in the closet.
Maybe Ontario’s public sector unions will depose Andrea Horwath and fixate the NDP on the social justice warrior path.
Maybe Patrick Brown will leave no sacred cow unslaughtered in his relentless drive to balance the budget.
Even now, the Ontario Liberals are forced into increasingly desperate acts to hold onto power. To keep the centre from collapsing.
One way or another, it cannot last. It will not last.
Lies are comforting, but the truth always reveals itself.
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