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Premier Ford’s approach to sustainability: A call to social consciousness

 

On June 7, the province of Ontario held its provincial election which saw Kathleen Wynne lose to Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford. The Ontario Progressive Conservatives also managed to win a majority government. With the pendulum swinging from left to right in Ontario, it has left many people wondering how big the changes are going to be under Ford. While the issues are far ranging, the focus here is going to be on Premier Ford’s approach to sustainability. The earth is getting hotter every year with more and more extreme weather events. That is why sustainability and environmental protection are such a vital topic. Premier Ford has already axed a number of green programs. If there was any doubt before the election about Ford’s approach to the environment and sustainability, there isn’t now: the proof is in the actions he has already taken.

Let’s rewind to the Harper government and their approach to science. To say that there was a contentious relationship between the two would be an understatement. Under Prime Minister Harper, not only was funding to scientific research cut, but scientists were muzzled from reporting their findings supporting climate change and steps to prevent it. How relevant is scientific data in the face of massive development proposals that stand to make a few people very rich? Not very relevant to Harper and the PC. This highlights the PC Party’s willingness to ignore science and data in the face of profit. When Doug Ford was Toronto city council and his brother Rob Ford mayor, the dynamic duo was very outspoken about their preference for cars over bikes. After all, oil companies can only make money off of cars, not bikes.

During his campaign for Premier, Doug Ford made it obvious that environmental protection is not a priority. At one point, he proposed opening up Ontario’s protected green belt to developers, something he almost immediately flip-flopped on due to public backlash. That is a disturbing look into Ford’s mind and priorities: profit over sustainability. Of course, there was also the usual rhetoric about slashing gas prices, which is to be expected of Ford and the PC Party. The right wing refuses to give up their fossil fuels. Ford was also outspoken about wanting to get rid of the cap and trade program that has provided companies a financial incentive to reduce their carbon emissions. Because preserving the earth for future generations is not a good enough reason. Add to this, his general lack of platform in the final days of his campaign especially regarding environmental policy.

Over two months have passed since Ford was sworn in as Premier of Ontario and he is already making big waves. He has scrapped the GreenOn initiative. The program was meant to encourage people with financial rebates to make their homes more environmentally friendly. Gone already is the cap and trade program. Even though his actions do imply he is waging a war against green initiatives, there is hope and progress. The Trudeau government, which is dedicated to green causes, has poured money into research aimed to understand and mitigate climate change. This includes monitoring and protecting the oceans and creating greener technologies. So even though the Ontario government has taken steps backwards, the federal government is light years ahead of the previous Conservative government.

Even though the new provincial government is a far cry from what an environmentally conscious person would want in power, private citizens can make their voice heard keeping the public discussion open on social media channels and contributing to the reduction of carbon footprint. Driving a car in Toronto is already an unpleasant experience; therefore, it’s much easier to take the TTC or ride a bike. Just imagine every time you take your bike or the public transit you are sticking it to Doug Ford. Every time the premier slashes another green policy or implements a destructive one, citizens have to respond and take advantage of the fact that Canada is a country where the people can express their views. When the government fails to provide and protect, it falls onto the citizens to enact positive change.

Ontario minister wears bulletproof vest to Jane & Finch, causing backlash

Michael Tibollo, the Ontario PC Party’s minister of community safety and correctional services, said that he wore a bulletproof vest while visiting Jane and Finch, prompting leaders to call his remarks racist and ask for a comment withdrawal.

Ontario’s PC minister of community safety and correctional services visited the Jane and Finch area on July 7. He tweeted about the experience, saying, “I had the opportunity to travel around 31 Division and learn about the great work of our police force. We are committed to work with our Police to ensure safe neighborhoods free of guns and gang violence. Glad to have Premier Ford join me and hear his concerns as well.”

Premier Doug Ford also tweeted about the experience. “Enjoyed meeting with the great community members in the Driftwood neighbourhood yesterday along with Minister @MichaelTibollo and officers from 31 Division. We are focused on building strong connections between communities and our police services,” he wrote.

During a question period in Queen’s Park on July 18, Tibollo said that he wore a bulletproof vest before entering the Jane and Finch area in response to a question about carding (incidents where people – often minorities – are stopped by police for no reason). The question came from Brampton North NDP MPP Kevin Yarde.

Yarde asked, “Mr. Speaker. I personally have been carded. […] New Democrats have long been advocating for the end of carding as a first step in addressing systemic racism. […] Will you be making changes to allow even more carding to take place on Ontario streets or will you work to stamp out carding?”

Tibollo responded, “I went out to Jane and Finch, put on a bulletproof vest and spent 7:00 to 1:00 in the morning visiting sites that had previously had bullet-ridden people killed in the middle of the night.”

During a question period later in the day, Tibollo added, “They’re surrounded by drug deals, one of which I saw take place while I was there. It was absolutely horrifying.”

“The police need tools to work with, they are doing an incredible job ensuring that our streets are safe. And it’s our job — I’m not a police officer — but what I can tell you is they need skills, they need tools to work with,” he added. “Our work will be to ensure working with the communities to make sure we build trust and that we have those tools provided to them to be able to do their jobs properly.”

Opposing party leader, Andrea Horwath, tweeted about Tibollo’s comments, calling them racist. “Conservative minister Michael Tibollo’s comment this morning about wearing a bulletproof vest at Jane and Finch is inexcusably racist. Anyone who would say something so divisive has no credibility to continue to oversee Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate.”

Tibollo responded about an hour later writing, “Any attempt to spin my comments this morning, is petty partisan politics. I am proud to support our police, and I will continue to work with communities and front line officers to make sure our neighbourhoods are safe.”

However, Horwath isn’t the only opposing Ontario leader who criticized Tibollo’s actions. Yarde also called for a retraction of the comment. In response to reporters, he drew on personal experience, saying that he was pulled over seven years ago in Mississauga for no reason. “Depending on who you’re asking and as an African-Canadian, I thought it was a racist comment,” Yarde said. “It was a surprise to hear comments such as that coming from the minister of community safety and correctional services.”

Alok Mukherjee, the former chair of the Toronto Police Services Board also tweeted out that wearing a bulletproof vest during a ride-along is not standard. “Since when is this a standard procedure? I did not wear a vest in my ridealongs all over the city,” he tweeted.

Deputy Premier Christine Elliot defended Tibollo, saying that she didn’t think Tibollo intended on an offensive comment. “I think what he is speaking about is needing to go to communities to understand what’s happening, to understand how people have been hit by violence, gun violence in their neighbourhood,” she told reporters.

Ford’s sex-ed decision will hurt students

So, Ford officially nixed Ontario’s sexual education curriculum so he could appease pro-life, Christian groups and conservative parents who don’t want children to know about basic things. Big surprise.

When Ford was discussing his idiotic plans for the city on the campaign trail I already knew that I wasn’t going to vote for him. He was too quick to yank decisions out of thin air that only placated a small amount of misinformed, bigoted people. It’s obvious that this is what the next four years will look like now that he’s literally setting the province back 20 years.

In case you missed it, Ford announced on July 11 that he would be reverting the Liberal party’s curriculum and replacing it with the 1998 version. The reason for this was essentially so he could consult with parents on what they wanted their kids to learn at home versus the classroom.

There are many problems with this decision. The 1998 curriculum didn’t include things that matter today like transgender people, same-sex marriage, consent, masturbation, homophobia, online bullying, and sexting. Back then these things were pretty much unheard of, so it wasn’t a big deal to sweep them under the rug.

But when students started entering a technology-driven society, things drastically changed. Kids were getting more open about their sex lives, sending photos to their partners, and had a new platform to bully other kids into suicide or changing schools. The internet is great for a lot of things, but it’s also a dangerous aid to children who weren’t educated in how to behave or protect themselves.

For those parents or conservatives out there who think this is a good move, let me tell you something. I went to high school in a Catholic school. Learning about Jesus for four years when you’re an atheist was already hell enough (please control your applause at these puns), but my class learned nothing about sex. Nothing. The teacher spent half a class once talking about how girls have a vagina and boys have a penis, everyone needs to refrain from having sex until couples were in love, and that everyone has to be safe. The end. But, what does safe mean? Ah, yes, my Catholic high school wanted to cover their butts by saying they technically told students to be safe, but they worked around it by not showing students what that meant. Kids in my school were never taught how to put on condoms or what diseases could be contracted through unprotected sex. This kind of “education” led to the school shutting down hallways because students were having sex too often in them and grade-10 girls walking around the cafeteria pregnant. So, maybe education is a good thing?

Though, it’s not just the Catholic groups out there who wanted Ontario’s sex-ed curriculum repealed. Enter Campaign Life Coalition. Let me stop sighing long enough to express my distaste in their backward views. They published an article talking about graphic lessons on body parts. Words like “penis” (oh no!), “vagina” (the horror!), “testicles” (the travesty!), and “vulva” (sound the alarm!) were all present.

I think I can understand where they were coming from. They don’t want little kids in grade one learning about their genitals because they’re much too young and need to be making macaroni art. However, kids get curious. It’s not unheard of for children that young to start exploring with other kids or even their own siblings. Look at the whole Lena Dunham debacle that happened a few years ago. Tons of people were quick to call her disgusting and a rapist, whereas several therapists actually stated that they didn’t think Dunham abused her sister at all. What happened was a case of curious children who weren’t properly educated by their parents or in schools.

It’s not just the genitals thing that irks me. It’s how the Coalition’s article also demonized same-sex households. A line from their article on grade 3 lessons reads: “Will normalize homosexual family structures and homosexual ‘marriage’ in the minds of 8-year-olds, without regard for the religious/moral beliefs of families.” What about the regard for the children coming from same-sex homes? That means they can be left out entirely so a homophobic agenda can continue being taught?

The article continues by saying, “It would be one thing to teach the fact that such alternative family structures exist, if the plan were to teach it at older ages, and if it were done in a way that respected the deeply held religious and moral beliefs of traditionally-principled families. However, the Kathleen Wynne government will certainly take an activist approach to these lessons and show no respect nor tolerance for traditionally-principled families.” Correct me if I’m wrong but it sounds like you’re upset that “traditional” homophobic, belittling views won’t see the light of day. Forgive me for not shedding tears.

I already knew that Ford promising to rid the new curriculum was going to be trouble. I believed him, and if you want to applaud him for keeping true to his promises then I guess I can give him that as well. I can’t deny that he did what he said he would. It just turns out that what he did was stupid, damaging, ill-informed, and not half as big a win as he thinks.

Regardless of whether or not Ford or the conservative parents out there believe it, kids masturbate. They’re going to have sex. Girls will get their periods. Boys will ask girls to send photos of their breasts. Girls will ask for photos of a boy’s genitals. Your kids are going to experiment. They’re most likely going to have sex in high school and be curious as children, so the least you could do for them is keep them educated.

Doug Ford: Stalker or love sick pitt bull?

Yesterday an affidavit came out that was sworn by a former PC candidate – Pina Martino. It was sent to the PC party legal team back in 2016, three days before her nomination race in Etobicoke Centre. In it she named dozens of people who were on the riding member list but admitted that they had never paid for their membership. She worried that Doug Ford had signed up and paid their membership fee for them. A secret tape recording of Mr. Ford telling people they didn’t have to pay was released by the Liberals this week and would seem to verify that indeed Mr. Ford likely  paid for their memberships. This  goes against the PC party bylaws. Martino was concerned because the rules around nominations were being flagrantly ignored, signing up members and paying their dues results in lack of commitment and support for the candidate. It’s a stupid thing to do and undermines the strength of the party. 

 In an email to the party Martino went on to allege  that Doug Ford had followed her not once but twice in an attempt to intimidate her from running for the nomination.

Let’s imagine this woman is your sister, mother, wife, or daughter, who Doug Ford has followed in his big black SUV in an attempt to intimate/scare her from running for the party she’s supported for over a decade. What advice would you give her? Most people would say that Ford’s behaviour crossed the line. That following a women in order to intimidate her is called stalking

Stalking is a crime called criminal harassment.

Today there are many PC party members wondering if Doug Ford rigged his own leadership race. Many more are disgusted that Ford was caught cheating the very system he has pledged to clean up. Yesterday’s release of a voice recording of Ford telling people they “don’t have to pay a thing” while referring to their membership forms demonstrates that he was willing to break the rules in the nomination process and rig the vote to favour his chosen candidate. His claims that the issue was dealt with by the PC party – the same party he admitted was filled with vote rigging and corruption, doesn’t hold much credibility.

But it is Doug Ford’s total disregard for the legitimacy of the nomination process that should send warning bells off witin every sane voter across Ontario.

Once a corrupt politician always a corrupt politician.

Personally I wonder why Mr. Ford risked so much to set Kinga Surma up as the new candidate for Etobicoke Centre. It would seem that he has taken quite a fancy to this young woman whose only experience was as campaign organizer for me in the 2010 mayoral race, and then assistant to George Smitherman in his race to stop Rob Ford. She worked for Liberal Peter Milczyn when he sat as councillor for Etobicoke, but other than that she has little to no political experience.

I know Surma well from her time working on my campaign, and will say that she is very bright, attractive and ambitious. I don’t doubt that she makes a good candidate.  But compared to Pina Martino, she lacked the history of dedication to the local community. Martino has participated on the Etobicoke-Centre riding association since 2006 and she was the candidate for the riding in the 2014 election. She had name recognition and a long-term commitment to the party.

But Doug Ford opted for a young woman with little political experience over a former candidate with name recognition and a history in the riding. This is extremely questionable, especially when combined with news that Mr. Ford was willing to risk his personal reputation and break all the rules just to get Ms. Surma the seat.

As a journalist I don’t understand why he would risk so much for one candidate?  I know that there is more to this than meets the eye.

 

Tactics used to protect guilty men

In the case of the two women who have accused Patrick Brown of sexual misconduct, it will be interesting to see if his defence team follows the age-old tactics that are used to defend men accused of sexual assault. The public can be easily fooled by a slick PR strategy that capitalizes on the fact that nobody wants to believe their “good” guy has a bad side. From his latest behaviour it’s obvious that Patrick Brown now has a defence team in place whose first order of business was to repair the damage Brown did by showing weakness when he resigned.  They would likely have advised him that showing strength scares witnesses away and showing weakness attracts witnesses to pounce on him. There are four key tactics used to defend men who are charged with sexual misconduct.  

  1. Absolute denial combined with hints of defamation charges:  The accused is usually advised to come out loud and strong, denying everything and suggesting legal action. This is designed to gain public support – the public naturally follow someone who shows strength – but it is also designed to scare witnesses from testifying. Nobody wants to be on the wrong side of public opinion or get into a costly defamation trial. If the perpetrator can get public opinion on his side, and convince people he’s going to sue for defamation, witnesses will crawl into hiding. Patrick Brown has now come out strongly denying everything and suggesting he’ll sue CTV for defamation. Yet CTV claims they have not been notified by anyone from Brown’s team. Which indicates he is simply bluffing to scare witnesses into hiding. If he doesn’t sue them, it’s a strong indication that there may be some truth to the allegations.                                                                                                                                                 The first woman who alleged Patrick Brown assaulted her at a party said that she attended it with a friend, but now the “friend” doesn’t remember being there with her.  I’m told this happens a lot when public shaming occurs. Witnesses feign memory loss and make themselves out to be unreliable because they don’t want to face public shaming or stand up beside a victim who is being shamed. They would rather abandon her than tell the truth. We assume people will defend the truth, they will do the right thing because a just society needs people to stand up for the truth. The sad fact is few witnesses do, unless forced by the courts in a defamation trial, or criminal investigation.                                                                                                                                                Personally, I believe that the women who accused Patrick Brown are victims of his misconduct and victims of the court of public opinion (which can be even worse).  I find it highly unlikely that any woman would come out had she known in advance that her friend wouldn’t stand up beside her. That a very weak man calling himself her “friend” has backed out of defending the truth is the real shame.  That kind of immorality eats away at a person, I hope she takes comfort in the fact that his shame will haunt him for the rest of his life.
  1. Blame the victim: This includes attacking her entire history and showing her as promiscuous. I have no doubt the next stage of Brown’s strategy will be to get social media focused on the background of both his accusers.  They may try to “slut” shame them or create the idea that these victims somehow set Patrick Brown up as a political stunt. This serves two purposes. It  will stir up hate on social media and it will protect him from other witnesses who may be thinking of coming forward. Now is the time women, who may have similar experiences with him need to stand up for the truth. We must come together to push social change forward, and build a just society for our children.
  2. Elicit sympathy for the man accused:  This is the next stage that Patrick Brown will need to work at. Sympathy isn’t as easy to achieve for a powerful man as it is for a younger man. Remember the case of Brock Turner who was caught in the act of sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster? His legal team tried to focus on his accomplishments and the bright future he had ahead of him – they suggested the victim’s accusations would hurt Turner’s future. The same is being said about Patrick Brown. The victims are now being accused of ruining his future in politics, no thought or comment is given to their futures, and his media supporters would have us all ignore that Brown may have tried to force himself on two intoxicated women.
  3. Promote Doubt: By promoting enough doubt, the perpetrator aims to steer the focus off of the facts and onto the unreliability of the women involved. Evidence will be distorted, past events and statements taken out of context, their friends questioned, and witnesses scared into hiding – anything that will discredit the woman is fair game. Distorting evidence equalizes the victim and the perpetrator. The Toronto Sun has now come out with a story claiming Patrick Brown is innocent simply because one of the victims got the timing of the event wrong – the timing doesn’t change that he might have forced himself on her while she was intoxicated, or that another woman stated that she too had a similar experience. Both accounts suggest a predatory pattern. That he had an intoxicated woman employee alone in his bedroom is the issue everyone should be questioning. What employer would be fool enough to do that?

Memory of an event is usually triggered by the emotion a woman feels when facing sexual assault or misconduct. They might feel angry, or powerless, and it is that memory that stays with you no matter how much you try to forget it. Women who have had such experiences usually tell and warn their friends about it. The timing might blur and details surrounding the event might fade, but the actual event itself and those feelings of anger, frustration, and helplessness don’t fade away. Every time you hear about another woman experiencing sexual assault or misconduct you are reminded of your own experience.  To jump to the conclusion that the women were lying simply because one got her timing off, or because one of them was friends with a reporter doesn’t explain why Patrick Brown took an intoxicated female employee to his bedroom. These other issues are designed to promote doubt.

The media seems to be glossing over an extremely important issue that is highly questionable, and something the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns are trying to address.  That Patrick Brown, or someone on his defence team, may have started a social media campaign designed to shame his two accusers.  This attack campaign released the names of the two women over social media. When it comes to sexual assault or misconduct the standard practice is to protect women who report the incident from backlash until an investigation has concluded. Most employers know this and take extra effort to protect their identity and create a safe work environment for all women. Why hasn’t the Ontario PC party called for an investigation into this? Why hasn’t Patrick Brown called in an outside investigator?

By identifying the women by name over social media, has Patrick Brown’s team crossed the line from civil to barbaric?

In a sexual misconduct or assault case, the perpetrator will often come up with a parallel story to explain why they were with the victim, and/or to fool the public into thinking them innocent. For example, Patrick Brown originally denied categorically that any of the events the two women spoke of had happened. But his former girlfriend has come out saying she watched him go to his bedroom with the woman employee, and then come down later to immediately drive her home. What girlfriend doesn’t think something is wrong when her boyfriend rushes out of the bedroom with a drunk woman and immediately drives her home?

I expect Patrick Brown’s strategy will involve all of the tactics above. The sad fact is that even if the women’s allegations are proven true, the court of public opinion has already shamed them, and once the masses take a position they don’t want to be told they were wrong.  Most people won’t remember that these women were forced to endure pubic shaming and social media attacks just because they came out with the truth. The public still sees strong women who stand up to powerful men as suspect, as women who “rock the boat for attention” –  instead of women who are trying to stop powerful men from abusing their positions.  

Social change is coming, but it will be a long time before the public understands the personal cost women endure by speaking up to protect others.

Doug Ford: King of cover up

Today, the worst candidate I can think of for leadership of the Ontario PC party – Doug Ford – has announced he is running. And I realize now why he didn’t come rushing to Patrick Brown’s side to defend him. Doug Ford is an overly ambitious man who would use his brother’s coffin to vault himself into the limelight.  Harsh words, but never have any truer words been written about the man.

Let me tell you about some of the secrets I’ve learned that happened in 2013, when I came out on Mayor Rob Ford’s drug induced grope.  Apparently, when the news hit social media, Doug Ford immediately started making phone calls to his “buddies” in the press. His strategy was to control and manipulate public opinion. He fed the press questions that cast doubt on me, he pulled the shadiest councillors he could find (from Vaughn) to twist the narrative, and finally he went on the Fords Newstalk 1010 radio show and made me out to be just another “crazy” woman.  Doug Ford knew that taking things out of context, and controlling the court of public opinion was the only way he could hide the truth. And for a while he managed to do it. 

But hiding the truth is a bit like trying to hold water in a broken bucket – it eventually leaks out. 

Doug succeeded in manipulating the public and hiding the truth about his brother and  his friends in the media made quick work of degrading me and making me out to be an opportunist.  They questioned my intentions and Newstalk 1010 in particular did some nasty public shaming. But that came to an end pretty quickly when the truth about Mayor Ford’s drug use finally came out.  That was when Doug Ford began claiming that he didn’t know anything about his brother’s drug use. By then most of the media realized they’d been used as his pawns. The Ford’s show on Newstalk1010 was cancelled and their power over the media went spiralling.  

When I learned about Mayor Ford’s drug dependency and the demons he was fighting, I forgave the Mayor. But I will never forgive Doug Ford for using his position of power to influence the media to demean and humiliate me.  I wonder how many women will actually support a man who demonstrated that he didn’t care about sexual assault, or that his brother was a drug addict?

I’ve always believed that Doug Ford’s lies put more stress on his brother than the truth ever did. Instead of encouraging the Mayor to tell the truth, I wonder if Doug counselled him to deny it?  When I think of the weeks that Mayor Ford had to carry the lie, and the pressure it must have put on him, I don’t understand how Doug couldn’t see what it was doing to him.

And make no mistake, there was a cost. Mayor Ford paid it. I paid it. But Doug Ford walked away relatively unscathed.  It is men like Doug Ford, men who abuse their power to twist and distort the truth, who need to be held accountable. He is a man so desperate for power he’s now decided that instead of running for mayor of Toronto, he’ll run for leadership of the Ontario PC party. 

The #MeToo campaign and #TimesUp campaign are a sign the world is changing, and women are no longer staying silent about corrupt men who abuse their power. It won’t be an easy road for men like Doug Ford.

Doug Ford is an example of a man who worked to hide sexual assault, drug use, and anything that might hinder his future ambitions. The world he once thrived in is changing and women are coming together to speak out.  Here at the Women’s Post we encourage women to step forward. To tell their story. If you have suffered, like I did, from the actions of Doug Ford please reach out to me. Let’s talk. Your identity will be protected.