At the Lucan Area Heritage and Donnelly Museum, Premier Doug Ford on July 23, 2019, announced that the Ontario government is investing more than $300 million to improve internet access and cellphone connectivity in rural communities. Ford later traveled to the Windsor area for private meetings.
Derek Ruttan / Postmedia News
Every now and then some disgruntled amateur politico points out that Windsor and Essex County keep electing persons who are not of an incumbent governing species. Currently, for example, the city and region have NDP representatives in both the federal Parliament and in the Provincial legislature. Not one of those elected Ndippers is remotely close to the inner sanctums of political power and patronage dispersal. Hence, for some faithful to another political party ‘we really have no representation in the chaotic corridors of public policy power’.Thus, it is frequently alleged, our region is deprived of the benefits of incumbency and, of course, patronage.Historically there have been years when Windsor and area was served not only by an elected Progressive Conservative but there was a time when the region was flooded with high-profile Liberals.Indeed, the Windsor region was so well served by powerful Liberals including a Deputy Prime Minister that it was possible for a few years to fly directly from Windsor to Ottawa. I recall flying that route as it continued beyond Ottawa to Charlottetown PEI and the stop in Ottawa was occasion for a number of folks from Spud Island to board and, like old family members, welcome each other for the flight “home”. Regional Ministerial power probably extracted that route from Air Canada.For a modest duration Paul Martin senior, Herb Gray, Eugene (Gene) Whelan and later Mark McGuigan (as Foreign Minister) all represented Windsor and Essex County. Once this region was a Liberal stronghold federally.Provincially when the Liberals held office Bill Wrye (ex-CBC) became a Minister of Transport. To his credit he did ensure completion of the EC Row cow trail to the Ojibway Parkway. But, despite his best efforts he was subsequently defeated by an NDP candidate. The latter eventually went on to political obscurity in both Ontario and, later, Alberta.And was the region rewarded in any manner by its Ottawa Liberal powerhouse? Of course it was but often in very subtle ways, such as Order-in-Council appointments of local residents to federal agencies or money for an Amherstburg marina. Federal money was quietly channeled into the region and federal ministers often had closed-door sessions with what was termed the editorial board of The Windsor Star in an effort to persuade Star staff that Liberal policy was healthy for the region.Now consider our current “plight”. Ontario’s loathing of Katherine Wynne’s Liberals gave power to our stunning and unusually inept Conservative Premier Doug Ford whose ‘love of Toronto’ has witnessed him wracking revenge on that same Toronto that endured his brother.This is the dude who, from his mother’s basement, announced his candidacy for leader of Ontario’s Conservative party with his expression of love for Toronto: “I love Toronto” he claimed. Presumably he meant “hard love”. And, is he aware that there is much more to Ontario than just Toronto?Now try to imagine that instead of regional NDP-ers elected to Queen’s Park our region’s communities had elected Conservatives and, probably, at least one sniveling local Conservative sycophant.Given that Ford is riding his own version of populism and concomitant financial slashings would we have hope that finally Highway 3 would be completed as a four-lane road? Could we imagine that a locally elected Ford government MPP would succeed in obtaining funding for the new mega-hospital?Could we imagine that a local Tory elected to Ontario’s legislature could stand up to the vengeful Premier in order to ensure that funding was not slashed for education or for autism or for seniors?Not ruddy likely as even Ford and his Ministers often do not speak from the same script. Take Ford’s recent promise to eliminate “beds in hospital corridors within a year” and the parallel remarks of his Minister of Health and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott who said that it will require the government to build more long-term care spaces, improve addictions and mental-health funding, and address hospital patient flows or patient logistics. Pity she can’t shed the word “Deputy”.The bottom line is that politics is a strategic game and decisions about who gets what from a government depend as much upon need as upon electoral strategy. Being of the same party provides an edge but absolutely no guarantee that abundant boodle will bathe a region.