Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Five political events that marked the year in Ontario

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Premier Doug Ford apologized to Ontarians, 10 months after announcing changes to the greenbelt. (Archive photo)

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Criminal investigation, leadership races, evictions and privatization: 2023 was punctuated by several events that shook up the political landscape in Ontario. A look back at an eventful year at Queen's Park.

It's not every day that a government is subject to of a criminal investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). In fact, federal police interest in the Greenbelt scandal is probably the defining moment of the year in provincial politics.

The cancellation of the transfer of land in this protected area did not allow the Ford government to put the matter behind it. Not even the resignation of Housing Minister Steve Clark, the alleged architect of these controversial changes, nor even the expulsion of MP Kaleed Rasheed, or even the Prime Minister's apology.

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The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark finally resigned in early September. (File photo)

The Ford government spent most of the year defending its decision to open the Greenbelt to residential construction, only to cave in to popular pressure. The embarrassing revelations have piled up for the Progressive Conservatives and we could learn more about the genesis of this affair in the months to come.

LoadingGood news and some irritants for your wallet in 2024

ELSE ON INFO: Good news and some irritants for your wallet in 2024

One ​​thing is certain, the #x27;year 2023 offered a small lesson in democracy: citizen mobilization can push back a government.

The last year was marked by x27;entry of two new leaders into provincial politics.

Marit Stiles was crowned, unopposed, among the New Democrats. Then more recently, Bonnie Crombie was elected leader of the Liberal Party after a hotly contested leadership race.

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Bonnie Crombie won the race for leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party. (Archive photo)

Observers are already talking about a renaissance among the Liberals, a party still weakened after two catastrophic electoral campaigns.

Of course, reconstruction is not finished, but the signals have been encouraging for the Reds since the mayor of Mississauga took the reins of the party. The attacks directed at Bonnie Crombie since her victory certainly give the impression that Doug Ford and his team are worried.

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The leader of the official opposition, Marit Stiles. (Archive photo)

Marit Stiles, for her part, especially shone by following the government on issues of integrity and transparency .

The leader of the NDP, however, had to deal with a caucus which seemed to be divided at times. The expulsion of rebel MP Sarah Jama, for example, did not achieve consensus among the New Democratic troops.

This is not new: the NDP sometimes has difficulty reconciling its unionist fringe and its more community-minded fringe. This challenge which will remain on Marit Stiles' plate for the new year.

Voters in the ridings of Kanata-Carleton, Scarborough-Guildwood and Kitchener Center were called to the polls in by-elections this year.

The first two seats at stake went to the Liberals and the third was won by the Green Party. A historic breakthrough that allows Leader Mike Schreiner to double the size of his caucus (although with only two MPs, official party status is still out of reach for the Greens).

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Despite the victory of Liberals Andrea Hazell and Karen McCrimmon in by-elections, the party is still not officially recognized by the legislative assembly . (File photo)

The results of the three partials are especially embarrassing for Doug Ford, particularly his debacle in Kanata-Carleton, until now a conservative stronghold. Journalists are often accused of giving too much importance to the outcome of a by-election and of overanalyzing the distribution of votes. However, in this case, the Progressive Conservatives do not have a good batting average. Even the organization of Ford Fest in Scarborough-Guildwood, a few weeks before the vote, did not allow the government to block the Liberals.

This is the solution found by the Ford government to tackle endless waiting lists: rely more on private clinics to provide care. A major transformation which provoked an outcry from both opposition parties and organizations protecting patients' rights.

The Minister of Health spent weeks preparing the ground, repeating ad nauseamthat Ontarians will never pay with a credit card to obtain care.

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Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones during an announcement at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, August 18, 2022. (File photo)

Changes are already underway, with the increase in cataract surgeries carried out privately, in particular. Hip or knee replacement will also soon be permitted outside public hospitals. The train is already in motion, but the concerns of the public and parliamentarians do not dissipate. We fear an exodus of nurses from the public network to these new private clinics. Pressure selling, which some vulnerable patients could fall victim to, is also a concern.

A recent analysis of CBC data provides insight into elsewhere the fear that the province is sinking into a dynamic of overfinancing of the private sector and disinvestment of the public network.

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< /strong>A total disaster. These are the words Doug Ford used to describe the possible arrival of Olivia Chow at the head of Toronto city council. He anticipated an economic catastrophe, with property tax increases that would chase entrepreneurs from the metropolis.

The warning issued by the Prime Minister during the electoral campaign ultimately did not prevent the former municipal councilor and federal deputy from seizing the town hall.

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Ontario Premier and Mayor Olivia Chow at the announcement of their new funding agreement in late November.

After the dust settled, Doug Ford and Olivia Chow became serious partners and were able to advance several joint issues. Who would have thought it?

Toronto and Queen's Park have, among other things, agreed on a new fiscal pact for the City. The province regains ownership of the Gardiner Expressways and the Don Valley Parkway, an unmanageable financial burden for the City. x27;is not insignificant: Mayor Chow leaves the field open to Doug Ford for his redevelopment plans at Ontario Place with the development of a megaspa.

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