I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.
A Province-Wide General Strike
General Strike Against Doug Ford: It's Growing
I saw my first post about a general strike against Ontario premier Doug Ford on April 22, 2019. To say I was surprised would be something of an understatement, as I don't recall the last time that I've heard of a province-wide general strike in the last half-century that I've been on the planet. Sure, I've seen several different organizations across Canada strike for their rights, and frequently been ordered back to work by various governments, but I've never even heard of a provincial general strike.
Per Wikipedia, a general strike is a movement that's been done to fight for "democracy, political representation and the provision of basic education and healthcare."
The Ontario General Strike Against Doug Ford, according to the Facebook group page, says it has no other political agenda "outside of stopping the current agenda being played out in Ontario and reminding Doug Ford who he works for." It's slated to run from noon to 1 pm on May 1, 2019 at Queen's Park, and it's already garnered a considerable bit of attention. Thus far, there are just over 2,100 people who have said they will be going to this general strike, with nearly 10,000 saying they are interested in attending.
The two women who created the Facebook group said they would like to see Ontario residents "not contribute to the work done in Ontario that collectively makes us healthy and wealthy" for the one hour that the strike is proposed for. Certainly, there have been some questions about how effective this particular strike would be, given it's only slated to last one hour, but certainly, if the numbers continue to grow in the magnitude it appears to be, this strike has the potential to, at the very least, cause a bit of a snarl in the traffic in and around Queen's Park - the heart of Ontario's government.
While some have argued that this government hasn't really demonstrated a willingness to listen to the people in spite of claiming it is #forthepeople, there are few options available to the people who are displeased with Ford Nation thus far. Unseating a premier has been more or less unprecedented, and in the current political structure of Canada, there does not appear to be a formalized way beyond voting him out of office in the next provincial election to unseat his government prior to then. Yes, Nunavut has recently voted to unseat its premier, as discussed in a StrategyCorp article from June 2018, but Nunavut is a one-party system, so the approach is somewhat different. That will likely not work in Ontario, which has a multi-party system.
It's interesting that members of the general public are lobbying for all workers of Ontario to strike against Doug Ford and his government, if only for an hour. It's a clear signal that there are members of the public who have clearly had enough of the cuts to public health which will almost certainly put Ontarians at risk. There are members of the public who are struggling with the idea that the government will be putting their children's education at risk because of a lack of internet access as a result of the four mandatory online courses that the Ford government wants Grade 9 students to take starting in 2020, or because of the increased class sizes that will seriously remove student access to courses like tech courses, arts courses or the like.
Not everyone supports the Ford government's supposed vision towards a future with new license plates, new provincial branding and the ability to drink alcohol at 9 am. Not everyone supports the Ford government's vision of an Ontario with less access to public health and education, not to mention decreased services to libraries - in many cases, this is where the underserved in our communities get the supports they need in order to get on the road to success.
The fact that the public at large is now trying to get all workers in Ontario to unite for a common purpose is commendable, but it also sends a message that without mutual support, we can't change anything. No one is saying that cuts don't need to happen; far from it. However, cuts should not be made in areas that would jeopardize public safety or the public interest. Keeping Ontarians educated and healthy should be a definite focus. Pushing an agenda focused on the consumption of alcohol or on gambling should not be.
In some respects, it's somewhat sad that it takes bad things happening for people to band together for the common good, but if that's what it takes to make a difference for the betterment of Ontario as a whole, that might be what needs to happen.