Doug Ford: the first 100 days
September 19th, 2018 | Saba javed
Lead organizer; adrien blancharo
Assist: Kelly perioris, keenan krause, anjali ghandi
The season-opening event for the Hart House Debates & Dialogues Committee engaged controversy and compliance as main themes with a panel of well-qualified political players across the spectrum of Ontario Politics.
Brought together to review Doug Ford’s eventful first 100 days in office, the panel included Hon. Deb Matthews, a former minister and cabinet member of the Wynne and McGuinty governments and Tiffany Gooch, a public affairs consultant and political strategist who has worked extensively with the Ontario Liberal Party Executive Council. Also joining the discussion on the Progressive Conservative Party’s work since the landmark election were Jaime Watt, the executive chairman Navigator as well as a guest lecturer at UofT’s Rotman School of Business; and Kory Teneycke, who, perhaps closest to the Ontario Premier himself, worked as the PC campaign manager in the most recent election.
Facing a full room of students and professionals alike, the night began with panelists eager to establish partisan lines, noting the distinct difference between the two former and two latter panelists and their opinions. This first came out in the moderator, Natasha Yard’s question on the future of the cap and trade model. Most notably, panelists Matthews and Teneycke did not hold any punches when addressing the party’s plans or (until recently) lack thereof.
The debate increased in anticipation and volume when questions veered towards the centre of controversy - including questions on the now scrapped Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot project, as well as the question of changing the previous government’s plans for the sex education curriculum. Again, Matthews and Teneycke came out with no holds barred, referencing the others’ views as nearing absurdity. This was exemplified in the memorable moment in which Teneycke stated that the pilot project was analogous to the crisis in Venezuela.
Throughout the night, Watt expressed general agreement with the Progressive Conservative party as a whole, but differed with some of Ford’s particular decisions, such as the sex education curriculum. Gooch, whose views aligned with Matthews for the most part, made particular emphasis on the question of reduction of City Council, and how it had affected many future leaders of marginalized communities in their ambition to run for council.
Yard, a moderator who is not new to handling raucous debate, was able to keep the panelists in check, allowing only a few moments for the enthrallment and disbelief of the audience to stoke the panel with each new comment and critique. In a continuation of the debates, the audience asked questions of the panelists which shied away from typical complimentary comments - most notable, was a scathing comment in regards to the contradictory PC policies of free speech on campuses and repealed sex education in an aim to reduce discomfort. To this, the panelists had much to say - and rounded out the debate with Yard’s call for a conclusive point for the night.
This event reflects a larger lively and impassioned response to a controversial few months under the new Progressive Conservative government - which has hardened across partisan lines but, as seen this night, includes nuance. Whether Ford has furthered or prevented your goals for the future of Ontario, this debate marks a renewed energy in provincial politics on all party fronts.