/Getting it done

Getting it done

By Sue Tiffin

It felt like I had no sooner sat down to organize the Times/Echo live blog on election night, that the winner had been declared. 

The night itself wasn’t particularly exciting for those watching from home – save for the nail-biting moment when the race between Barrie’s longtime mayor Jeff Lehman and Ontario’s attorney general Doug Downey was separated by two votes – nor the election results surprising if you believe polls (the National Post’s “Déjà blue” headline a real winner) or invigorating if you wanted change. 

The next morning brought astonishment of, and frustration with, the concerning low voter turnout – a historical low, CBC early on noting it the “lowest turnout in the province since Confederation” – and a revival of electoral-reform conversations when it became clear the Progressive Conservatives had won with 18 per cent of the vote [see Jim Poling Sr.’s column on Page 7 for more].

Ideally, unless the PCs suddenly become interested in a change in the first-past-the-post system that is benefitting them (“You really don’t expect turkeys to vote for Thanksgiving,” Tim Abray, a PhD candidate and teaching fellow at Queen’s University told TVO) the conversation can focus on why people didn’t vote – what made people so disengaged in an election that we have been told has dire consequences for the future of health care, our education system and the climate change crisis?

But until that change happens and the reasons for voter apathy rectified, what next?  

Now, we look forward to what Doug Ford’s government and our sixth-time MPP Laurie Scott have planned to help get the province and our rural region and those of us who live here, in a better place than we are now – in the next four years, and quickly. While PC members weren’t so accessible during the election campaign, we expect to hear them speak out loud and clear for our province and our community in this time of great need. 

We need affordable housing, more of it, and every house that is built from here on in needs to be accessible. 

We need the province to make immediate, radical change to the way we treat our elders and aging population. 

We need big moves to stop environmental degradation, even if that means – especially if that means – not constructing a highway where watersheds and endangered species might be at risk.  

We need to support teachers, nurses, doctors, and those working in systems who are telling us those systems have historically worked better than they are today. We also need those systems to remain public and ensure every resident regardless of race, income, or social status has access to quality care and education.

We need the Ontario Disability Support Program to offer stability for those using it – currently the maximum amount one can receive for basic needs and shelter is $1,169, significantly lower than what was deemed suitable for the monthly Canada Emergency Response Benefit – and the establishment of a guaranteed basic income program.  

We need leaders who will stand up to hatred and division – this should not need to be said and it is a shame that we are saying it more and more. While it might take time to pass legislation and make change happen at every level of government, the response to hate speech and acts of hate from individuals, groups, or fellow politicians should be immediate. Anything less is not what we teach our children about caring for each other. Anything less is not progressive. 

So much progress can be made during the term of a majority government. Progress can also be stalled. If the Ford government will be getting it done, the rest of us need to insist on progress. That would be particularly exciting.