The Ontario Election

Published on 2018-06-13

"For the people," he said, over and over. "For the people. A plan for the people." 

Not for "Liberal insiders and political elites." 

Not for "radical special interests." 

For "the people." 

I contemplate my personhood. I am a person, I think, though I am a student, and live in a city, in an apartment building, and pay rent. I am a person, though I think reducing carbon emissions is necessary to our continued life on this planet, and value that life more highly than a few extra cents per litre. I am a person, though my name is Arabic, and my parents weren't born in the same place I was. I am a person, though I think a minimum wage should be a living wage, and the education of children has broadened and deepened in beautiful, immense and necessary ways since I was a child, not least because children are taught, now, that indigenous people exist, and that their suffering within the settler-colony that is this nation didn't end in 1763. 

"By ignoring parents and focusing on narrow agendas or force-feeding our kids experimental curricula like 'Discovery Math' the Liberals are leaving our children woefully unprepared to compete with other students from across Canada and around the world.  And instead of helping our kids pass their tests, the NDP want to cancel the tests altogether." 

I am a person, though I'd love for children to grow up knowing that their personhood isn't contingent on their test scores. 

I contemplate, too, the Tories' distrust of math, when I look at the numbers they've written down without showing their work. I wonder if it's because they fear complexity. They need to keep things simple. Math is, at most, arithmetic, a reckoning of how many of this there are in that.

For instance, in the economics of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, every part of me that isn't a straight white man subtracts from my personhood. 

A person minus queer minus woman minus brown = me? A person divided by three, a person diminished, a person who is less, a person who isn't, quite; a person rounded down. A radical special interest. 

(Radicals, of course, have no place in the mathematics of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.)

I started writing this post on Friday, so miserable I felt sick, feeling baffled and betrayed. Aren't we better than this, I thought. Don't we care about each other more than this, don't we see each other, don't we want to help each other? Isn't that what people do? 

Why am I always struggling to understand the people who live around Toronto, proclaiming themselves members of a different nation, struggling to understand how to reach them, how to bridge the distance between us, struggling to understand what makes them drink the poison from Doug Ford's mouth? Do they struggle to understand me? Or do they only struggle to reduce me further, to simplify me, to bring the messiness of me to zero?

Perhaps, in the mathematics of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, everything is a zero-sum game. Perhaps those who support them feel that if Radical Special Interest Groups are trying to secure rights for people who don't have them, it must be at the expense of those who do. Perhaps that's the only way available to them to think, and it is a simple way, and the Ontario Progressive Conservatives make a virtue of simplicity, and a vice of complexity, and that makes people feel good -- that their way of thinking is right, is comfortable. 

I am a person, though I am uncomfortable all the time. I am a person, and I agonize, constantly, over the things I think I know, over the vastness that I don't. I am a person, and I think it's more important to study how to be good to people, how to make the best for everyone, than to secure my own comfort. 

I am a person, and Doug Ford's plan is not for me.