Ontario is under one-man rule. Who will stop Doug Ford? - 2019-01-11
Six months ago, running on a rightwing populist platform that was long on rhetoric but short on specifics, Doug Ford, the elder brother of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, was elected with a majority Conservative government. Ford has hit the ground running. Claiming a strong mandate for his non-existent platform, Ford has eliminated environmental, worker and consumer protections, cut public services, cut education funding, and teed up public assets for a mass selloff. These typically neoconservative policies are concerning, but what's truly frightening about Ford's reign is the way he is concentrating power in his own office and is trampling over the democratic norms of Ontario's parliament.
In his first six months in office, he has subverted municipal elections, voted to suspend the charter rights of the people of Ontario, fired government watchdogs, made himself the arbiter of what is "free" speech on college and university campuses, opened the door for corporate funding of his next campaign, appointed his friend as commissioner of the Ontario provincial police, and appointed political allies to lucrative posts while firing political opponents.
The most egregious breach of Ontario's democratic norms occurred when Ford changed the rules of several municipal elections in the middle of the campaign period to satisfy personal vendettas. In mid-campaign, he cancelled some regional chair elections that left his political rival and former Conservative leader, Patrick Brown, three months and thousands of dollars into an election campaign that no longer existed. Ford also changed Toronto's city council election from a race for 47 seats to a race for 25, a move that allowed him to exact revenge against some of the progressive councillors who, eight years ago, had stripped his brother, then mayor Rob Ford, of his powers when Rob's addiction to crack cocaine became public.