This morning, Ontario, I am ashamed of you. Ontario, you had an opportunity to do the right thing, and chose — deliberately chose — not to. I am ashamed and embarrassed by your choice. And that includes your choice not to vote.
At stake was the future of this province; its education, healthcare, environment, libraries, long-term care; at stake were our seniors, and our children. None of that mattered to Ontario. Instead of voting for a better future, Ontario voted for Doug Ford. Well, not all of you: few of you actually cared enough to vote. Less than half of eligible voters cast their ballot this time. That in itself is shameful in a democracy.*
It didn’t seem to matter that Ford had broken so many of his promises made last election campaign. Or that he had crippled education and healthcare with massive cuts. Or that his plans for Highway 413 were environmentally disastrous and only benefitted his developer cronies who already purchased property along the proposed route. Or that he mismanaged the pandemic and thousands of people in Ontario died. Or that he protected his friends among the corporations and owners of for-profit long-term care facilities from their own mismanagement after seniors in their care died.
It didn’t seem to matter that Ford had targetted both education and healthcare services over the past four years, with cuts to public services and bonuses for private ones. Or that he threatened to bring in American-style privatized, for-profit healthcare that would further weaken our public system.
It didn’t seem to matter that during his previous term, Ontario’s housing prices skyrocketed out of control, making home ownership impossible for millions of working Ontarians families, yet Ford did nothing about it.
It didn’t seem to matter that Ford withheld billions of dollars from the pandemic relief funds; money that could have eased the dire straits of many affected by the pandemic and lockdowns.
Ford’s questionable ethics, his secrecy, his disappearance, his refusal to debate, even his recently-exposed Russian ties didn’t matter. Ontario chose his simplistic slogans, his ideology, his empty promises, his false claims; doing so with the knowledge they were smoke and mirrors.
Ontario, you went into this election knowing what was at risk, and who was at risk, yet you chose not to care. You were warned, but you ignored it.
My faith in humanity continues to erode.
* The turnout this election was only 43% of eligible voters. In 2018 it was 58% and in 2014, 51%. This election broke the record for the lowest voter turnout in Ontario’s history, shattering the previous record of 48% set in 2011. That low turnout gave Ford’s PCs 41% of the votes cast, and 83 seats (a majority is only 63). As John Wright, a veteran pollster and executive vice president of Maru Public Opinion, commented,
A political party needs only about 37 per cent of the vote to get a parliamentary majority in Ontario. This means that a majority of Ontarians “can wake up every morning and dislike what you do and you can still win a majority.”
Far too many people here couldn’t be bothered with this province’s future and didn’t cast a vote. I think we should have a compulsory voting law like Australia’s that fines those who are eligible but won’t vote.
“Every nation has the government it deserves,” (Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle merite) wrote Joseph de Maistre in 1811. Sadly, an Ontario that couldn’t care enough to vote also got what it deserved.