Opinion-Policy Nexus

Hon. Doug Ford,
Queen’s Park,
Toronto, Ontario

My dear Premier Ford:

It’s me again, Sir, your faithful fan out here in the foothills of Ford Nation.

I’ve already written to you a couple of times, first to commend your efforts to return Ontario to the glories of the 1950s, and subsequently to endorse your invocation of the notwithstanding clause to subdue that twit, John Tory, the mayor of Toronto.

I write today for a different purpose. I believe it is time, Mr. Premier, to cement your legacy by building a monument that will celebrate the achievements that you, our greatest provincial leader since, well, Patrick Brown, are amassing. 

It should the kind of monument that will make future generations reflect on the ways you Made Ontario Great Again before you passed into the Great Hereafter of federal politics.

They will remember how you rid the province the green energy nonsense implanted by that irritating woman, Kathleen Wynne. They will honour you for scrapping her radical sex-ed curriculum. They will applaud your bold scheme to pave the Greenbelt to make way for more Ontario essentials: factories, subdivisions, shopping malls and lots and lots of parking lots.

Future generations will remember with gratitude those big signs you erected at the border to reassure Americans fleeing from Donald Trump that Ontario was open for business – with gratitude because no one ever took the trouble in the past to notify Ontarians that the province had been closed for business.

What we need now is something more dramatic. A proper monument to your vision and values.

I refer, of course, to the reinvention of Ontario Place, the 155-acre park, recreation and entertainment facility that sort of floats in Lake Ontario just west of the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto. Conceived in 1967 and opened in 1971 – it may be of interest that it opened on time and under budget (how quaint!) – Ontario Place was Toronto’s response to Montreal’s Expo ’67.

Not an overwhelming response, perhaps, but Ontario Place managed to thrive for years. Of late, however, it has fallen on hard times.

Your government is facing a major decision, Premier Ford: to scrap Ontario Place, fix it, or turn it into something that will stand as an enduring monument to your Progressive Conservative government.

People do care about Ontario Place. They jammed the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Saturday to air their ideas at a “Rally Round Ontario Place.” Some (probably Liberals) wanted to keep it as a park and hiking trail, a place for calm and reflection in the heart of the city. Some (probably New Democrats) saw affordable housing. Some people called for condos, plus theatres, pubs and retail stores – just like every other part of downtown Toronto.

Some thought it would be a nifty place for an open-air baseball stadium with natural grass for the Blue Jays. Some touted the potential for a yacht club for large lake vessels.

But wiser participants – our sort of people, Mr. Ford – saw the true potential of Ontario Place. They called for a spectacular development with a giant ferris wheel, perhaps the world’s highest, fastest, most heart-stopping roller coaster, and, at the centre of it all, a humungous casino with everything a world-class gambler could dream of: a vast poker hall and banks of slot machines and roulette wheels stretching as far as the eye can see.

What good sense this makes!

You need to be aware, Premier, that certain people hold the view that Ontario Place should be a place for everyone – including poor people and families with children – not just for expensive games and high-stakes gambling. There are many NIMBY types in Toronto who regard a casino in the centre of the city with the same horror with which they might regard some other perfectly legal operation, such as a slaughterhouse, in their midst.

But do not let this coterie of self-interested small thinkers deter you, Mr. Ford. You have an opportunity to turn Toronto into the Las Vegas or Atlantic City of the North. This could be your legacy.

Your loyal admirer, etc.


Monday, January 14, 2019 - 08:33