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The Fall of the House of Ford?
With #Bill23, now the "More Homes Faster" Act, has the self-proclaimed Man of the People finally skewered himself in the butt?
It was a dark and soundless day near the end of the year, and clouds were hanging low in the heavens. Oops, that’s the opening of The Fall of the House of Usher, by Edgar Allan Poe. Let’s begin again.
It was a dark and soundless day in Simcoe County, Ontario – November the Thirteenth to be precise (ominous music), and clouds were hanging low in the heavens. Stuff was coming out of them. Was it snow, was it rain, was it sleet? Anyway it was cold. Already I knew I was under-dressed.
My sister and I were winding through the mysterious backways around Midhurst, searching for the secret meeting place. It was indeed quite secret, because it took us some time to find it, but there it was at last: an outdoor pavilion in the eldritch depths of Springwater Park. This park is run by the Beausoleil First Nation, who were instrumental in keeping it from becoming a gravel pit. A small but intrepid group of rebellious peasants was huddled out of the wind, its members muttering resentfully, stamping their feet, blowing on their fingers, and eating celery sticks that were swiftly turning into Healthy Frozen Vegan Snacks.
We approached the conspirators and uttered the required password: “Expletive, it’s expletive cold!” Merry laughter was the response. “You missed the speeches,” said one. Uttering an inner prayer of gratitude, I beelined for the cheese plate. “Were they fiery speeches?” I asked. Any mention of warmth would be cheering. “Very,” said the leader of the band, the Robin-Hoodish Margaret Prophet, a gadfly to various local peasant-grinding Sheriffs of Nottinghams.
Now you may think none of this amounted to a hill of beans – a bunch of idealists in woolly hats grumbling in the shrubbery -- but in that you would be wrong. These folks were the tip of the iceberg; in fact, they were the tipping point of the iceberg. Nor were they nerdy urban “progressives” howling in the wilderness. This location was once the heart of Sheriff of Nottingham country. The folks in it were true blue Conservatives, who would once have voted for a turtle if it was the right colour, because their dads did. But just recently they’d thrown out the entrenched council in a nearby town for being secretive and unresponsive. And now they were gathering their forces to go head to head with the Mega-Sheriff himself, the Premier of the province: the bright blue, but not true blue, Douglas Ford.
What had Dougie done? Lied a bunch, to be sure: he’d promised not to touch the cherished Greenbelt, set aside for farming, protection of watercourses, and wildlife. Then, after being elected on that promise, he’d passed a bill that would rip the Greenbelt apart, to the benefit (surprise!) of a clutch of his pals and election donators, who’d mysteriously invested in the land in question before said bill was announced. In public, that is: the rumour mill has it that he’d given the wink in private.
If so, that’s called “corruption.” It’s also called playing the voters for fools. If you vote for a turtle, you at least know what you’re getting; but someone who disguises himself as a turtle and then comes out as a crocodile is another thing altogether. And now it seemed that the taxes of many municipalities would go speeding upwards, to pay for Doug’s highways and benefit a pack of developer Fordites and land speculators.
Judging from the Springwater Park gathering, word was getting around among the deceived taxpayers. Trust in Douglas was evaporating. I listened to much seditious chat, such as “This isn’t right” and “I used to think better of him,” before packing it in. “If I stay one more expletive minute, my buns will expletive freeze and fall off,” I proffered conversationally. “But I’m with you! I’m getting my crossbow ready! We’ll outfox that dishonest ol’ Sherriff of Nottingham yet! And his band of craven enablers,” I added, more modernly.
“Good you could come,” they intrepid plotters replied. “Have some frozen pizza? Take it home, there’s lots.” “I baked these cookies,” added another. “They’re great,” I lauded. Beware the cookie-bakers: once they get going in a good cause, you’d better watch out, and this means you, Douglas.
Things built from there. Demonstrations popped up province-wide. Signs were carried. Letters were written. Petitions were signed. The First Nation Chiefs of Ontario accused Ford of simply ignoring their binding treaties. Raving centrists reminded him that government was supposed to be for the benefit of the governed, not the other way round. Newspaper opinion pieces sided with the insurgents. There was TV, even! Not to mention Social Media. Heady stuff!
The Sheriff of Fordland put up a feeble smokescreen, claiming untruthfully that his ripoff Act would create more affordable housing: another palpable untruth.
And then, dear readers, the end was nigh. Due to shady contractors skimping on building materials plus living skeletons coming out of cellars, The House of Ford split in two and fell into the dark tarn, and the blood-red moon shone through …. Nope, wrong story.
But fissures are definitely appearing. Ford is now snapping at Mayors and ordering them to stop whining, and telling questioners to sit down and shut up – how dare they expect him to answer any questions! – so something must be making him peevish. Maybe it’s the criminal proceedings and ethics violation investigations said to be brewing. Ford hasn’t said expletive in public yet, but wait for it.
Postscript: This evening– Monday the 12 of December, 2022 – I attended a Zoom meeting hosted by the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition (www.justrecoverysimcoe.ca) in the recesses of Sherwood Forest, aka Simcoe County. Folks beamed in from hither and yon. Jeff Monague from Beausoleil First Nation pointed out that this was not their first land-grab fight, and that Ford was in violation of treaties, and asked for partnership. There was a Rage Cage where people could go and yell, a desirable feature at any such event. The proceedings were enlivened by some hack-savvy teens with limited imaginations posting dick pics and telling the attendees that they were ugly, or possibly whales. (Whales were then vigorously defended.)
Were these cutie-pies actually mercenaries sent by Sir Brian de BoisFord to disrupt the proceedings? If so, the ploy failed. Resolve will be strengthened! Knives will be whetted! Cookie recipes will be exchanged!
Meanwhile, for more about sustainable activism, the Greenwood Greenbelt story, supplies of crossbow arrows, and what you might be able to do, go to: