The past 10 days have been saturated by events surrounding the death of Queen Elizabeth the second and the accession of King Charles the third. I have no problem with that. It is quite appropriate as we mark the end of one era and the beginning of another. For many people, it is a once in a lifetime experience.
Nor do I have a problem with the Prime Minister declaring a Federal holiday to mark the Queen’s funeral on Monday. It is a symbol of respect emulated by many countries around the world. However, I also support the decision of the Premier of Ontario to declare Monday a day of mourning, but not a provincial holiday.
The Prime Minister has done what needed to be done in this regard for Canada, and not duplicating that in Ontario, where people can be respectful of the occasion but still get on with their lives, is appropriate. I for one will be up at 5 am on Monday morning to watch the Queen’s funeral, and at my desk by 9 am.
I also believe it is entirely appropriate for young people to be in school on Monday where they can learn about the Queen’s place in our history and her extraordinary role, not only in Canada, but throughout the world. That’s what schools are for and for some school boards to attempt to dumb it down because of perceived “sensitivity”, is just plain wrong. As well, it is just another sad reminder of the current tendency toward revisionism and woke politics.
But life does indeed move on, and there are several other matters that have caught my attention over the past week or two. Let’s look at a few of these.
There has been much hulabaloo over recent legislation passed by the Ford Government in Ontario, in order that people who no longer require hospital treatment can be removed from those institutions to more appropriate places of care. Tough measures perhaps, but the right thing to do.
Hospitals are for acute care, not for chronic care, and they are not homes for the aged. Most people are aware that health care in Canada badly needs reform. One serious problem is that hospitals are clogged. People who do not need to be there, need to be cared for in a facility that more closely fits their requirements.
Health care reform is a step- by- step process. It does not happen overnight. In addressing these issues, governments of all stripes will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. This step taken by the Ford Government will not win a popularity contest, but it is a necessary step in the right direction.
Where I think the Ford Government needs to up its game, however, is to get on with lifting the 1% salary freeze that currently is in place for some health care workers, especially nurses. It remains unconscionable, especially given events of the past two years, and needs to be addressed now as part of the solution for increased and more enthusiastic healthcare staffing.
Sticking with Ontario for a moment, I also think Toronto Star columnist Martin Regg Cohn, with whom I seldom agree, had it right when he wrote this week that the Ford Government should give the Liberals official party status in the Legislature even though they did not win the required number of seats. They did win almost 24% of the popular vote, more votes than the NDP who became the Official Opposition due to the vagaries of seat distribution.
Whatever their political stripe, governments, especially in this day and age, need to be held accountable and Provincial Legislatures play a key role in that process. Providing Liberals in Ontario official party status will give them access to resources that would effectively contribute to that important function of opposition parties
At the federal level, Parliament comes back into session this week, but Prime Minister Trudeau continues to keep it as weak as possible. It is high time to end a hybrid parliament. The Prime Minister attends all sorts of global gatherings where many people are present, including the Queen’s funeral and soon, the United Nations. Surely, he can attend his own Parliament on the same basis. Accountability may not be Justin Trudeau’s greatest strength, but Canada deserves better, and Parliament needs to get back to work within the chambers that are intended for it.
There was also a lot of media attention this week to the fact that newly elected Conservative Leader, Pierre Poilievre and his family, will be moving in to “publicly funded” Stornoway. (emphasis on publicly funded) Why shouldn’t they? It is the official residence of the Leader of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. Like it or not, that’s his job now. There will be plenty of legitimate opportunities for the media to be critical of the new Conservative Leader. Sour grapes, in my view, should not be one of them.
But I would say this to Pierre Poilievre: Don’t call a Press conference, as you did last week, if you don’t want to talk to the media and address their questions. You have the right to make your statements and they have a right to question you. The mainstream media certainly has its biases and its faults, but they play a legitimate role in keeping politicians accountable. If you really believe in freedom, I suggest you get used to that.
Hugh Mackenzie has held elected office as a trustee on the Muskoka Board of Education, a Huntsville councillor, a District councillor, and mayor of Huntsville. He has also served as chairman of the District of Muskoka and as chief of staff to former premier of Ontario, Frank Miller.
Hugh has also served on a number of provincial, federal and local boards, including chair of the Ontario Health Disciplines Board, vice-chair of the Ontario Family Health Network, vice-chair of the Ontario Election Finance Commission, and board member of Roy Thomson Hall, the National Theatre School of Canada, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Locally, he has served as president of the Huntsville Rotary Club, chair of Huntsville District Memorial Hospital, chair of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, president of Huntsville Festival of the Arts, and board member of Community Living Huntsville.
In business, Hugh Mackenzie has a background in radio and newspaper publishing. He was also a founding partner and CEO of Enterprise Canada, a national public affairs and strategic communications firm established in 1986.
Currently, Hugh is president of C3 Digital Media Inc., the parent company of Doppler Online, and he enjoys writing commentary for Huntsville Doppler.
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