This 2022 election campaign is beginning to prove that just about anything is possible, no matter the absurdity.
At a recent stop in Niagara Falls, Premier Doug Ford stood behind that city’s mayor, Jim Diodati, as he raved for over three minutes about Ford’s accomplishments, listing a number of ways his Progressive Conservative government has supported the city and the region in the past four years.
“This premier understands, he’s got the business background to get it,” Diodati told the small group gathered across from the construction site where the new South Niagara hospital is slated to be built. “The reason that I’ve asked him to come up to this mic is that I want to personally endorse this premier for the next four years to lead our province.”
Diodati came across like Ford’s carnival barker, drumming up enthusiasm for the really big show about to blow Ontario’s socks off.
Is it absurd for a mayor to have an opinion on who should be the next premier of the province? No. Is it absurd for a mayor to come out in public to ‘personally endorse’ Ford’s reelection? I would say yes, indeed.
Especially Jim Diodati.
Now, I don’t know for sure what Diodati’s political affiliation might be. But for many years both prior to and since he became mayor in 2010, many have speculated that Didoati would throw his hat into the ring of party politics, either provincially or federally. The party most often mentioned that he might be linked to? The Liberals.
As well, current New Democrat Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates has pointed out that the last time Diodati endorsed a political candidate it was Joyce Morocco, who ran for the Liberals in a February, 2014 by-election. Gates won that by-election despite Diodati’s endorsement, and went on to protect his seat in 2014 and 2018.
Gates has assured his supporters that he is not worried about Diodati’s endorsement of Ford and, by default, Niagara Falls PC candidate Bob Gale. But one has to wonder, if Diodati successfully runs for mayor again in October, and Gates is victorious June 2, what will their working relationship be like for the next four years?
But that’s not where the absurdity ended this weekend.
When Ford stepped to the mic, the praise flowed back to Diodati from the premier. Then he quickly took a shot at Gates.
“If someone asked me who the local MPP is,” Ford said, “I couldn’t tell you. You know who the local representative is? Right behind me, the mayor for the last four years. I call him a double-hatter, he’s the mayor and the MPP.”
Now, I’m not sure if you have ever met Wayne Gates, but chances are you have. The title of a recent movie could be paraphrased to describe Gates. He’s Everywhere All at Once.
Gates is built in the mould of another long-time local NDP MPP, the late Peter Kormos. He’s loud, he’s brash, and he speaks his mind. And Gates has that moustache. That alone makes him unforgettable.
For Ford to insinuate through his statement that Gates has done nothing for the city or the riding, which includes Niagara-on-the-Lake, is ridiculous. Absurd.
Gates has worked tirelessly for the people of this riding and the province. His focus on healthcare, specifically OHIP coverage for prostate screening and clearing the MRI backlog, has returned results during Ford’s tenure. And it was Gates who worked with 10-year-old Maya Webster to have continuous glucose monitors covered for those with type-1 diabetes.
With MPPs wearing orange in three of Niagara’s four ridings, some have speculated that the region gets the bum rush on a lot of asks. That may or may not be true.
But it is especially absurd to believe for even a single second that Doug Ford does not know who Wayne Gates is. That is childish politicking at its worst, akin to Auston Matthews saying he doesn’t know who Tampa Bay Lightning second-line centre Nick Paul is.
Last week I wrote here about the absurdity of three of the four local PC candidates in this election refusing to participate in televised debates on YourTV. Gale, Sal Sorrenton of St. Catharines and Niagara Centre’s Fred Davies have also skipped debates hosted by local chambers of commerce and CKTB radio. I don’t need to beat that absurd horse over its head.
But if you’re looking for further absurdity, look no further than the Green Party. Our local Green candidate is Tommy Ward. The NOTL Local reached out to the Green Party’s riding association to do a profile on Ward for this week’s newspaper, and was told that Ward is a ‘paper candidate’.
There are various definitions of that term. But basically, it boils down to the fact the Greens feel they have absolutely no chance of winning the riding. It seems that Ward’s name is on the ballot just to fill space, to ensure the party has a name on the ballot in every riding. It’s publicity they are after in Niagara Falls, not a riding win.
And not one of the four local Green candidates participated in the YourTV debates.
It’s a shame to think that this is where the Green Party has landed after so many years of making steady progress. Election after election they have offered up candidates who could talk about every issue, not just environmental ones. That was a far cry from their performance in elections just 20 to 25 years ago, when their candidates couldn’t offer an opinion on healthcare and education, for example.
Having won seats both federally and provincially in recent elections, it seemed they would continue to make progress.
Running ‘paper candidates’ however, will put the brakes on that progress. And this in a time when one might expect environmental issues to take increased importance. It’s absurd for this party to throw away all the progress they have made through the years by cheapening their image with space fillers.
We’re now heading into the final few days of any election, when it can often feel like the silly season is upon us. We’ve seen it in previous cycles.
With the provincial election just over a week away, one might wonder what further absurdity is to come.