Analysis | Doug Ford, the Crown and the parliamentary break
Review of the end of the summer session at Queen's Park marked by controversy, then mourning.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford in front of the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in Queen's Park
Just as Buckingham Palace announced the death of Elizabeth II, her representative in Ontario gave royal assent to the government's latest bill for the summer.
Long live the King!, launched shortly after and in a tearful voice the house leader, Paul Calandra.
Doug Ford had planned to adjourn the proceedings in the afternoon that day- there, after a short and tumultuous session marked by the accelerated passage of controversial bills.
A matter of letting the dust settle.
His government quickly pivoted. More than any other province, Ontario commemorated the event with great fanfare, first by proclaiming the accession of King Charles to the throne, then returning for a day dedicated to the memory of Elizabeth II. /p>
It's true that Ontario probably has the strongest ties to the Crown.
Older Ontarians grew up singing God Save the Queento school, an anthem often sung by MPs at Queen's Park. And it is here that we find the greatest number of local associations of the Monarchist League.
So, while the flowers accumulate at the foot of the statue of Queen Victoria in front of the Ontario parliament, the cries of protest – from unions, city councillors, defenders of the public health system – were temporarily muted.
Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Premier Doug Ford and other attendees sang “God Save the King” at the end of Monday's ceremony.
There is no doubt that no one in government is happy with the death of the Canadian head of state, quite the contrary. But the distraction didn't hurt either.
The past few weeks have led to a sticky situation for Doug Ford and consecration for his opponents, who have since warned for years he has wanted to further privatize the health care system. This priority is now under construction.
Ditto for the Greater Powers for Mayors Bill, which gives the mayors of Ottawa and Toronto veto power over by-laws that conflict with provincial priorities. A decision that undermines local democracy, according to observers of the municipal political scene, but which should make it possible to accelerate the construction of housing.
These priorities had not been mentioned during the spring provincial election campaign, a fact that angered the opposition parties. But until the start of the school year, few Ontarians were listening.
The summer session therefore ends rather positively for Doug Ford. With his second majority mandate and taking advantage of a weakened opposition at Queen's Park, he quickly settled his priority issues.
Only problem: his government may have more difficulty in forget about the law that authorizes the transfer of seniors to long-term care centers that they did not choose (Bill 7). The controversy rebounded again in question period last Thursday, a few hours before the death of the queen.
Yesterday's release of the law enforcement guidelines has again added fuel to the fire. The government will pass a bill of $400 a day on patients who refuse to leave the hospital. In some areas, they may be relocated 150 km from their community.
Doug Ford calculates that at least he and his ministers won't have to justify themselves in question period or in a scrum. It remains to be seen whether that will be enough for popular outrage to subside.
Other challenges await him between now and the return of the deputies, scheduled for October 25. Starting with negotiations with education unions, whose collective agreements expired at the end of August.
During the last rotating strikes, which date back to the winter of 2020, Doug Ford had not ruled out the idea of a special law, but the arrival of COVID-19 had led to temporary agreements.
Two and a half years later, the tone is rising again between the two parties. Unions fear more cuts to the public education sector, in favor of greater privatization. A first strike vote is already scheduled for next week.
In Ontario, where schools have been closed the longest in the country during the pandemic, will the population digest that classes are again disrupted, this time by a teacher walkout?
In the opinion of the government, schools should no longer close under any circumstances: neither COVID-19 nor even the right to strike.
And nor, either, the funeral of Elizabeth II.
It has the merit of being therefore.