It is rare for a disagreement to break out in our circle of friends.
When the Auditor General report was tabled last week, an out-of-town business friend texted to say how he loathes those smear campaigns. The inference of course was Premier Doug Ford was made to look bad. After all, there’s nothing wrong with doing business with friends, right? That’s how the business world works, he offered.
We learned a long time ago that politics and friendships can be a dangerous mix. For the most part we let friends rattle on, but on this point we had to firmly state that we weren’t backing down – these dealings were bad.
Days later, after a few “aw shucks” moments and promises to “do better”, eyes are now trained on a staffer involved. The fall guy as it were, Ryan Amato has emerged from within Housing Minister Steve Clark’s office. Premier Ford has asked the integrity commissioner to investigate Amato, as if to suggest there is just one rogue operator in this scheme. It is a no-win argument for Ford, raising more questions than answers. Having a political operative shape policy is disconcerting and begs the question, who is actually running things at Queen’s Park.
For anyone dismissing this debacle as just the way business is done, think again. This is the public realm.
Signs dot the landscape shouting “Hands off the Greenbelt” and, while it may be easy to dismiss that as partisan fervor, the reality is even card-carrying Conservatives are finding this one tough to stomach.
Although the political culture has changed in this country, there are still plenty of people clinging to notions of fairness when it comes to public policy outcomes. Although it is accepted that the rich will keep on getting richer, when those riches are gained by gaming the system, most people see that as quite unfair. The public are being played for suckers here.
Adding to this hand-off to friends, is the continuing saga of announced changes to the Development Charges Act. DC’s as they are known, form the basis of municipal finance and many communities have become reliant on that revenue stream. In fact, larger projects that aren’t a necessity at this moment, but happen due to growth are predicated on DC revenue. Flipping that mechanism on its head lands costs back on taxpayers. That too is not fair and such a conversation over the risks and perils of changing the act was needed before shifting the fiscal landscape, not after.
We doubt this fiasco will result in resignations of either the Premier or the Minister of Housing. That would be too classy for this lot. But imagine for a minute the looks on the chosen “few” faces were a new government formed in 2026 and it announced the return of all this farmland to the Greenbelt.
Ford and Clark – open for (monkey) business.
This past Monday, area Facebook pages carrying local news showed up with the phrase “No posts available”.
As we say with regularity, there is more to the story.
In this case, Meta through its Facebook social media channel substituted local news posts with a bald-faced lie. The fact is, there were plenty of posts available from countless local radio stations, online news sites and this newspaper. Meta unpublished them, out of spite.
The company indicated in previous notices that the action of blocking news was in response to Bill C-18. That particular bill is about compensating news organizations for content tech giants have leveraged for years to earn advertising revenue. People can debate the approach taken by the Liberal government, but the discussion about tech giants and the havoc they have wreaked in the news marketplace is indisputable.
There is some irony in an American firm like Meta denying access to local news, much less closing off access to news sites posting on its platform in the United States. It is bizarre, yet telling. No one really believed Facebook to be a benevolent defender of community, did they?
An authoritarian monopoly – imagine that.