Friday, March 6, 2009

Will Flaherty relaunch his 2002 "Jail the Homeless" Ontario Conservative Leadership bid?

John Tory to quit in defeat

March 06, 2009
Rob Ferguson and Robert Benzie
Toronto Star

LINDSAY, ONT.–John Tory will announce today that he is stepping down as Progressive Conservative leader, the Star has learned, his political career brought to a screeching halt as he lost a hard-fought by-election to the Liberals in cottage country.

Scourge of the homeless

The Globe and Mail
February 16, 2002

Ontario Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was looking for publicity, and he found it. Seeking to separate himself from the others in the province's Conservative leadership race, he said it was time to jail the homeless. That would be the last resort, if they refused to go to shelters, or to addiction rehab centres, or to hospitals. But however you slice it, he would criminalize the fact of living on the street. "It will be illegal to live in public places."

Mr. Flaherty drapes his proposal in humane concerns: that it is better to force someone into a shelter than to leave that person to freeze or otherwise die on city streets. Trouble is, he seemed to have little idea of why they were there in the first place.

Yes, there are some who are mentally ill and whose lives would be improved by medical treatment. It is, we would argue, humane to administer that treatment even over their objections if they are too sick to appreciate the implications of not being treated. Ontario moved in that direction when it amended its mental-health laws in 2000.

But many people are forced onto the streets because they have no job and, for all the talk of job creation, no one will give them one. They are on the streets because there is too little affordable housing. They are on the streets because, given the state of some shelters, they would rather take their chances with the elements than in cramped quarters where their neighbour may have a communicable disease, or try to steal what little they have after they've dropped off to sleep, or otherwise pose a danger.

Mr. Flaherty didn't pound the table and pledge to fund more shelters with more inviting facilities, or to use public money to address the shortage of public housing, or to consider that the government may have made a mistake in cutting some people off welfare. When quizzed by reporters, he had no idea what his policy of dragging the homeless off somewhere, anywhere, would cost. He just wanted it done. He wanted to solve a complex social problem by sending out special police squads.

His proposal has done what he wanted; it has brought him attention. It has not made him look thoughtful, or informed, or particularly good leadership material.

1 comment:

Dr Mike said...

We are having a tough enough time in Ontario as it is & we sure don`t want Jim back.

The only advantage I can see from his return would be that it would mean he has left Federal politics.

I supported Frank Klees the last time out for Jim in the Ontario leadership bid.

Maybe we could get some homeless person to take him out this time around.

Dr Mike