What a difference 72 hours makes!
On Friday, the Doug Ford PC government invoked the notwithstanding clause, declaring the education workers’ strike illegal. Nevertheless, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) decided to go ahead with its illegal strike, despite being threatened with massive fines. Par for the course, classes were disrupted provincewide. Just as classes were disrupted in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. Just as classes were disrupted in 2019 due to teachers engaging in work to rule. As the saying goes: “It’s for the kids.” Or, maybe, when it comes to Ontario education workers, as they say in Alabama, “This dog don’t hunt.”
Regardless, the Ford government seemed to pick up on the anger and frustration of so many parents who yet again had to make childcare arrangements due to entitled education workers manning the picket lines yet again.
By invoking the notwithstanding clause, the most potent weapon in the government’s legislative toolbox, it initially appeared as if Premier Ford was channeling the late great President Ronald Reagan. As History.com recalls, on Aug. 3, 1981, almost 13,000 air-traffic controllers went on strike after negotiations with the federal government to raise their pay and shorten their workweek hit a stalemate. Across the U.S., some 7,000 flights were canceled. That same day, President Reagan called the strike illegal and threatened to fire any controller who had not returned to work within 48 hours. In addition, he declared a lifetime ban on the rehiring of the strikers by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The consensus of the striking air traffic controllers was that the President was bluffing. He was not. On Aug. 5, President Reagan carried out his threat and the federal government began firing the 11,359 air-traffic controllers who hadn’t returned to work.
By Aug. 17, the FAA began accepting applications for new air-traffic controllers. And on Oct. 22 the Federal Labor Relations Authority decertified the Professional Air-Traffic Controllers Association (PATCO).
Mission accomplished and problem solved. But Ronald Reagan ranks as one of the greatest presidents in American history. He had a keen mind and a steel spine and was a true conservative. As for Doug Ford? Well, the premier, who seemingly has a spine made out of week-old cherry cheesecake, stated at a Monday morning press conference that “I don’t want to fight.” It brought to mind the famous quote allegedly uttered by Roberto Duran in his 1980 fight against Sugar Ray Leonard: “No mas, no mas…”
And Ford’s unwillingness to fight is now a big problem for Ontario taxpayers, people who need a champion to fight on their behalf. How odd. We recall a brilliant Ford Nation campaign slogan from yesteryear that stated: “Respect for taxpayers.” That slogan has apparently been reimagined as “Respect for public sector union workers.” Pathetic.
And yet, the question remains: what exactly changed in the course of 72 hours? Why was Ford full of vim and vigor on Friday when it came to taking a stand against CUPE but threw in the towel on Monday?
We believe the X factor has everything to do with his new best boyfriend, Justin Trudeau. Ford, you may recall, proudly states that he “stands shoulder to shoulder” with the Prime Minister. So, when Trudeau condemned Ford for using the notwithstanding clause, that likely rattled Ford… despite the fact that Trudeau unnecessarily enacted the Emergencies Act against the freedom convoy back in February. Despite the fact that the province of Quebec has invoked the notwithstanding clause more than a dozen times.
How supremely sad. In the space of three days, Ford went from channeling the spirit of Ronald Reagan to rebranding himself from a champion of the taxpayers to a big bowl of Jell-O.
Stick that in your cherry cheesecake, Premier…