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article imageOp-Ed: Has Doug Ford turned into Canada's very own Donald Trump?

By Karen Graham     Jul 28, 2018 in Politics
Toronto - If the political climate in Ontario wasn't so darned serious - it would be almost laughable. Premier Doug Ford has become Canada's very own version of Donald Trump, using his power to halt some elections, and many feel he has stepped over the line.
Doug Ford knew what he wanted when his campaign for Ontario premier kicked off back in May, and at that time, many people noticed Ford was using some of the same tactics Donald Trump used in his campaign for U.S. president.
Well, Ford won the election in June on promises that at the time, apparently sounded great to his voter base. But that is where it has stopped as he started stepping on a lot of toes.
The latest fiasco the premier has created is rather serious, especially as it takes place right in the middle of municipal elections. Much to everyone's surprise, his highness, Premier Doug Ford, announced on Friday his plans to redraw ward boundaries, effectively slashing the size of the city council by half and canceling a number of regional elections.
"We're going to run city hall a lot more efficiently than before," he says, according to the Toronto Star. "No one has ever said to me: 'Doug, we need more politicians.'" My word, he even sounds like the self-important Trump.
Ford has also gone so far as to describe Toronto's political process to "a comedy show," saying he'd had enough of "hours and hours of endless debate." His plan? Ford wants to cut the number of councilors from 47 down to 25. In doing so, this would raise the population per councilor from 58,000 to 109,000, according to the Globe & Mail.
However, opponents say the Progressive Conservative leader and former City Councillor may be exacting revenge and is behaving like a "dictator." Ford even has Toronto Mayor John Tory in his pocket - so much so that Tory is calling for a referendum on the size of Toronto’s city council.
But herein lies the problem - Based on provincial rules, the deadline for putting a referendum on the ballot has already passed. But this little issue does not appear to be a problem for Ford who has said he is more powerful than any municipal leader and Toronto could more effectively be run from Queen’s Park, per the Toronto Star.
“We’re going to get things done. We’re going to run city hall a lot more efficiently than before,” the premier told reporters 12 hours after the Star revealed his sweeping changes. "People tell me that we have too many politicians making it harder to get things done, making it harder to get things built, making it harder to deal with the real problems we face,” he said.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath compared Ontario Premier Doug Ford to a “dictator." And this is troubling in today's politically tenuous climate, not just in Ontario, but in Canada as a whole. We in America are already seeing the results of a leader taking on more power than is allowed, and this is not the way a democracy is supposed to be run.
"Mr. Ford seems to believe that he is the king of Ontario. He’s behaving like a dictator,” said Horwath, the province’s opposition leader. “For the Premier to cancel elections where his political rivals or enemies of the past are running is deeply, deeply chilling. It is an assault on democracy.”
With municipal elections coming up on October 22, if Ford is able to get his plans in action, this would cancel regional chair elections in Peel, York, Niagara, and Muskoka regions. And after hearing Ford's announcement, Jennifer Keesmat, a popular former chief planner, decided to run for mayor before the signup deadline Friday.
Keesmat is so put out by Ford's decision she went so far as to tweet: "Now I have had a chance to sleep on it. Secession. Why should a city of 2.8 million not have self-governance?" Yeah, that is a bit too much, but as big a population as Toronto has, they should be allowed self-governance.
Political analyst and columnist Jim Warren called Ford’s announcement the move of a “political assassin” done “in the stealth of dark.” And remember when I mentioned it could be revenge on Ford's part? Well, Warren says it better.
“It’s payback time to all these city councilors,” said Warren. “It was payback time for people who really thumbed their nose at his brother when he was mayor and when (Doug) was a city councilor.”
While many called the Premier’s announcement “unprecedented,” John Mascarin, a municipal lawyer, said the proposal is within the Premier’s authority. Now, that is frightening, and something I have heard before, from Trump's court jester, Rudi Guliani.
“The province has the constitutional authority to change the rules,” he said. “They can create municipalities, they can change municipalities, and they can do away with municipalities.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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