‘Welcome Back Doug Ford Party’ draws hundreds to Queen’s Park
Hundreds gathered at Queen’s Park on Saturday to take part in the “Wecome Back Doug Ford Party” organized by CUPE. CITYNEWS/Leah Johansen
By Leah Johansen and John Marchesan, Feb 25,2023
Hundreds have gathered at Queen’s Park to protest the Ford government following the return of the legislature this past week.
The “Welcome Back Doug Ford Party” was organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario, alongside several other advocacy groups such as Environmental Defence, Ontario Health Coalition, and the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, Allies of Onkwehonwe and various education groups.
“This is NOT a warm welcome for Doug Ford. It’s an ironic ‘nice to see you back’ after the government took 10 weeks off,” CUPE said.
“This is a protest party for all of us who care, who want to stop the Progressive Conservatives’ agenda of privatizing public services while ignoring Indigenous voices, unions, experts, and its own citizens.”
“More and more people in communities across the province are coming together because they’re seeing the damage that’s being done by the Ford Conservative government,” Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario told CityNews.
“They’re feeling angry and upset about the lies that have been told to us all, in fact the Premier did lie to us, he told us during the provincial election campaign that he would not develop the Greenbelt, and he lied.”
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner was among the many speakers at the rally.
“It’s going to take people power to tell Doug Ford to keep his Greenbelt promise and keep his hands off YOUR Greenbelt, not the developers Greenbelt, not Doug Ford’s Greenbelt, your Greenbelt,” he said to enthusiastic applause. “We must protect the farmland that feeds us, the wetlands and the green space that clean our drinking water and protect us from flooding. We’re in a climate emergency and we have to protect our children’s future, not pave over it.”
Ontario’s integrity commissioner and auditor general are conducting separate investigations into the government’s decision to open protected Greenbelt lands up to housing development. Both Ford and the housing minister have denied any wrongdoing.
The provincial government revealed on Nov. 4, 2022, that 7,400 acres of land would be removed from the Greenbelt and converted into housing developments.
It was later revealed that some developers had bought parts of this land just weeks before the government’s announcement.
On Friday, Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles officially asked the province’s Integrity Commissioner to look into whether or not Ford violated the Integrity Act as it relates to two family events involving developers and lobbyists.