Self-empowerment in the era of Ford Nation


Self-empowerment in the era of Ford Nation


What are the implications of the Ford victory?

What happened? How did this happen? What is to be done about it?

One plausible explanation is that it is Ford Nation that has triumphed. This suggests that the recently splintered Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has been retrofitted and rebranded as Ford Nation, making it ready and able to win the election handily.

But even so, very few analysts expected the landslide that took place: 76 seats for the PCs, 40 for the NDP, 7 for the Liberals and 1 for the Green Party.

That landslide emerged to erase the election-week consensus that the PCs and the NDP were in a dead heat that could go either way. In this scenario, the result would have been that one of the two of them could win a majority or a minority government, and the other would come in a close second. The Liberals would come in a distant third, though not the 7 seat party without official status that it has become.

A more realistic analysis of the landslide paints a starkly different picture: the PCs kept their core support, added a significant part of the anti-Wynne/anti-Liberal protest vote and swayed an even more significant segment of the undecided voters and of the disenchanted voters who would normally vote Liberal.

In other words, the Liberals lost most of their core support while the NDP doubled its share of seats and assumed the status of the official opposition. It is likely that the supporters of the labour movement went back home to the NDP or simply abstained.

And now to the most important question: what is to be done in the face of this new reality, this earthquake that has completely upended Ontario’s political landscape?

More specifically, how are the various communities, such as our Black and Caribbean community, going to fare now that the reins of provincial power are in the hands of Ford, Ford Nation and the Progressive Conservative Party?

Our first step has to be the highly positive and self-empowering attitude of assuming greater responsibility for ourselves and especially for our youth and children. We should refrain from the automatic posture of victimhood and helplessness.

That principle of assuming greater responsibility for ourselves is to be our fundamental strategy. It will remain valid, whatever the extent to which the new government acts on the obsession with eliminating “inefficiencies” in the operations of the provincial government.

In the past, when the Liberals were in power, our community has either been too reliant on the goodwill of the government or simply allowed the government to take our political and voting support for granted.

In today’s context in which the PCs will control the funding of public services and the overall use of government funds, we have to be stronger advocates for our community’s needs and interests. We do this both as individuals and through our community organizations.

This is a more direct form of political advocacy for critical government-financed and government-subsidized programs that are essential for the progress of all communities, especially the more vulnerable and marginalized ones. The key programs are in the fields of Education, Health, Community and Cultural Development, Youth Development, Social Welfare, Poverty Reduction and Anti-Racism.

There is also another form of advocacy in which we ourselves become more personally engaged as volunteers, tutors, mentors, facilitators, advisors and financial contributors, in satisfying the needs of all segments of our community.

Our challenge is to win over the “inactive” majority of our community members who tend to keep their time, talents and other resources for the almost exclusive benefit of themselves and their loved ones.

Regardless of our various opinions on what we can expect from the incoming Ford government, it is our own duty to assume greater responsibility for ourselves.

It may be that Premier Ford’s hunt for “efficiencies” is meant to effect budget cuts in the delivery of health, education, and social welfare. In so doing, it may be that he is seeking to eliminate thousands of jobs in some of those sectors.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath, the incoming Leader of the Opposition, is certain of that and is equally intent on holding the Ford government to account for its proposals and policies. She has also committed herself to paying special attention to job security in the public sector, workers’ rights, equitable taxation and the minimum wage.

For our part, we have to become more pro-active and engaged in our community’s needs.

With a higher level of self-empowerment, we assume greater responsibility for ourselves.