political shifts

How the Canadian Donald Trump became premier of the country’s most populous province

Dough Ford pledged to expel Liberal elites from power, remove the influence of ‘special interests’ and create a government that works on behalf of the people.

Up until a few months ago, discussions of Doug Ford becoming premier of Ontario, Canada, were relegated to amusing hypothetical conversations. The hypothetical “what if” has now become reality.

The man many see as the Canadian Donald Trump has seized on a unique political opportunity to dethrone the province’s Liberal party and reassert Progressive Conservative control over the most populous province in Canada with a majority government.

For some, the prospect of Ford’s tenure as premier is concerning if not downright frightening. There is an understandable fear that Ford’s brand of right-wing politics will bring sweeping reforms to social programmes while undoing many of the progressive policies enacted under Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government.

While it is impossible to predict precisely how his premiership will unfold, we can look to his rhetoric during the campaign as well as his late brother Rob Ford’s tenure as mayor of Toronto for an indication of what might loom ahead.

Rising tide of populism

Doug Ford’s campaign platform was based on well-worn conservative policy positions. From scrapping the carbon tax to reducing corporate tax and promising to balance Ontario’s budget within two years, Ford’s campaign, at least in terms of substance, relies on many of the same ideas and policy positions as other Canadian right-wing politicians.

What marks his campaign as unique, at least in Canada, is that these positions are couched in the language of populism. Ford has offered his candidacy and his ideas as a way to expel Liberal elites from power, remove the influence of “radical special interests” and, most importantly, to create a government that works on behalf of the people.

The populist framing of Ford’s campaign offers a reimagination of politics as a fight between hard-working, tax-paying citizens against out-of-touch “elites” beholden to special interests.

While there is no crystal ball to predict how successful Ford will be in following through with the specific promises outlined in his campaign platform, Ontario residents can expect that the populist discourse used to defeat the Liberals and the New Democratic Party during the campaign will continue, and may even intensify as Ford pursues his legislative agenda.

With Ford at the helm, we should anticipate a major shift in political discourse over the next four years. Like Trump, Ford represents a different way of doing politics, one where political civility, technocratic knowledge and compromise are replaced by brashness, common sense solutions and decisive unilateral action.

Ford’s successful positioning of himself as a voice of the people, and the harbinger of common sense, will force his opponents to adapt their strategies to appeal to Ontarians.

If this campaign demonstrated anything, it is that using Trump as a bogey man to scare voters away from Conservative politicians has only limited sway over the hearts and minds of voters.

For opponents at the centre and on the left of the political spectrum looking to draw support away from Ford, they will need to develop strategies to undermine his populist credentials while offering their own policies that appeal to those affected by a sense of disaffection and political alienation.

In his brother’s image?

While much has been written about the similarities between Ford and Trump, Doug Ford’s most closely resemble the populist stylings of his late brother Rob Ford. They share a remarkably similar neoliberal worldview, centred on halting the proverbial “gravy train” by drastically reducing government spending vis-à-vis the privatisation of government services. Above all else, their politics are shaped by staunch anti-elitism and anti-cosmopolitanism. Under Rob Ford, this mixture of populism, neoliberalism and anti-elitism manifested itself in proposals to close homeless shelters, end HIV/AIDS prevention programmes and cut funding for arenas, playgrounds, pools and daycare centres.

Doug Ford’s campaign evokes the same underlying logic used by his brother as mayor. In order to strengthen his appeal to middle class taxpayers, Ford has promised not to cut public sector jobs or reduce services. The successful alignment between Ford and the middle class represents a broadening of Ford Nation.

On the outside looking in are those who fall under the banner of special interests: the LGBTQ community, public sector unions and low-income communities.

So if we want to get an indication of where Ontario might be headed with Doug Ford as premier, we ought to examine his brother’s tenure as mayor and the groups alienated by Ford Nation.

While concern about Doug Ford may be widespread, it will likely be the most marginalised among Ontario citizens who are the most adversely effected by his premiership.

Brian Budd is a PhD candidate at the University of Guelph, Canada.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

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Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.