LETTER: Imagine Dickens’s ghosts visiting Premier Ford
‘What bleak future would shake this premier enough to turn the nightmare into a miracle?’ wonders local Green party official, harkening parallels to Dickens.
Premier Doug Ford speaks during a media conference in Orillia in August 2020. | Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters file photo
This Christmas, I wish upon our premier a Dickensian ordeal to rattle him from Bill 23 and correct course: A Greenbelt Carol to Make Conservatives Conservative Again.
I imagine the story beginning with the premier getting to his home, dropped off in a limo provided by one of his benefactors after a holiday gala. Approaching the door, fumbling for his keys, the head of his late brother appears and challenges him.
Rob would take on a serious tone to remind his big brother Dougie of how they got started, how they built Ford Nation by genuinely trying to help the “little guy” in Etobicoke north, and how that was harder for Rob to do as mayor and nearly impossible for Doug as premier. Rob warns his brother that the path he’s on is a betrayal of the populist ticket they rode on and that, to save his conservative soul, he’ll be visited that night by three ghosts.
I imagine the Ghost of Conservatives Past presenting in the form of recently deceased former Premier, Bill Davis. The two of them are teleported to 1954, in the wake of Hurricane Hazel when over 2,000 Ontario homes were washed away and 81 people lost their lives.
Doug would watch how the Progressive Conservatives in government at that time established the conservation authority to protect watersheds and control flooding to save lives and property.
They’d then teleport to 1973, to witness then-PC premier Bill Davis establish the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, hailed as the “ecological building blocks” of the Greenbelt Act. Before leaving, Bill would ask Doug why he could possibly think it was a good idea to undo any of this in any way.
I imagine the Ghost of Conservatives Present appearing as a young voter. She’d show the premier the lives of everyday Ontarians, struggling through these times. Perhaps, the parents of a child with chronic illness that would be treatable if healthcare hadn’t been put into a doom spiral by lack of funding and staffing issues directly related to current PC policy.
The parents even struggle to pay rent, forced to choose between eating, or facing eviction. Playing Santa for the child this year will be hard but somehow they’ll make it. More credit card debt is likely the answer.
The ghost emphasizes how crazy it is to develop farmland into detached dwellings while the world is well into a food supply shortage and prices at the supermarket reflect that scarcity. Families like these need housing but the housing they need is affordable. Doug’s plan will not provide that. Before leaving, the ghost exclaims she believed in Premier Ford when she voted for him but that she can’t do that anymore. She feels discarded and betrayed.
I imagine the Ghost of Conservatives Future, coming in the form of a weendigo, the First Nations’ spirit of avarice and human cupidity. The ghost would not appear dressed in “elegant clothes and comports itself with an air of cultured and dignified respectability” as described by the late great Anishnaabe author Basil Johnston wrote in his essay, Modern Cannibals of the Wild.
This weendigo would be a picture of rapacity, undisguised and show the premier how it was his own actions that “gutted and desolated the forests, leaving death, destruction and ugliness where once there was life, abundance and beauty.”
I have a hard time imagining what exactly would be needed; what bleak future would shake this Premier enough to turn the nightmare into a miracle; to arise with a renewed zeal to stop the destruction; to go to his window, to the sounds of kids playing road hockey on his suburban Etobicoke street; “You there! Young person! What day is it?” Doug would yell.
The answer: “It’s not too late to save the Greenbelt.”
Chief executive for the Simcoe North Green Party of Canada Riding Association