Doug Ford is Ontario’s next premier—and that’s likely not a good thing for millennial women.
The Progressive Conservatives won 76 seats on June 7, forming a majority government in Ontario and booting out the Liberal government that had held power for nearly 15 years. Ford, 53, has put forth no clear fiscal plan for the province, but the brother of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has made one thing clear: he does not value women’s rights—and women, rightfully, don’t trust him.
According to a CBC pre-election poll, women ranked Ford the lowest out of all the party leaders when it came to being trustworthy, receiving an average score of 1.6 out of 10. A whopping 59 percent of ladies have even less faith in him, giving him a score of zero out of 10. Let that sink in.
Now that Ford has been elected premier of Ontario, we have reason to be alarmed. Here, three reasons millennial Ontarians should be concerned about the Doug Ford government.
Abortion access may be limited
Ford is pro-life and was supported by Campaign Life Coalition, an anti-abortion group that thinks terminating pregnancy is harmful to women (and essentially evil). He was also blessed and endorsed by Pastor Paul Melnichuk, a church leader who was charged with sexually assaulting women in his north Toronto congregation. (He was found not guilty.)
While the new premier said he said he wouldn’t revisit the abortion debate himself during his campaign, he’s OK if any member of his party wants to address the current legislation. Ford has also said he would consider making it mandatory for young women under 16 to get their parents’ permission if they want to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Currently, those under 16 do not require parental consent to have an abortion if their doctor believes they are capable of understanding and making the decision on their own.
“You have to give a note to your kids when they’re 12 and 13 years old to go on a field trip,” Ford said, arguing that it’s ridiculous that a kid needs permission to leave school but not to get an abortion.
When Ford was elected premier on Thursday, Campaign Life rejoiced, saying they “remain optimistic” that he “will uphold his campaign promises” which include policies around abortion. This is a scary AF thought because reducing access to safe, legal abortions has historically put women in dangerous situations, and forced them to seek out alternative ways to terminate pregnancies. We also know that when we limit abortion access, women often need to travel out of province (or state) to receive appropriate medical care, adding unnecessary financial and emotional stress.
Inclusive and comprehensive sex-ed could be cut
While Ford has a lot to say when it comes to young women accessing abortion, he doesn’t want sex-ed taught in the classroom. Accusing the Liberals of not properly consulting parents on the sex-ed curriculum the party put forward in 2015, Ford promised he was going to review the education plan during his campaign. On Friday June 8, a day after he was elected premier, he confirmed he plans to repeal it.
Incoming Premier Ford confirms he intends to repeal the sex ed curriculum.
— John Michael McGrath (@jm_mcgrath) June 8, 2018
“Unlike the Liberals, I know that parents—not government—are our first educators when it comes to our children,” he said earlier this year. “Sex-ed curriculum should be about facts, not teaching Liberal ideology.”
In reality, the *controversial* sex-ed plan teaches students proper names for their body parts (shocking!), sexual orientations (because not everyone is straight), consent (an extremely important topic), gender identities (there’s more than two, Ford) and contraception (quelle horreur!).
If Ford scraps the sex-ed curriculum, the kids in our lives—girls and boys—will suffer the consequences. In an era where #MeToo has become part of our cultural lexicon, it’s vital that kids learn about consent and sexual health at a young age. It’s also incredibly important that Ontario fosters an inclusive and accepting society, one that believes all sexual and gender identities are valid and important. The current curriculum is a step in the right direction; losing it would be a huge step backwards.
Sexism and crude behaviour will continue
Likened to U.S. President Donald Trump, Ford has a history of saying sexist and offensive things about women.
Most recently, Ford made multiple sexist remarks towards Ontario Liberal Party leader Kathleen Wynne, said tone-deaf and racist things about Ontario’s Black communities, deliberately often refused to talk to the media and hired his own “reporter” to cover him. (Also remember that time when he said a home for differently-abled youth “ruined” his neighbourhood?) Now that he’s elected premier, it’s safe to assume his misogyny, racism, and downright offensiveness will make frequent appearances in Queen’s Park. After all, he once called Toronto Star reporter Jennifer Pagliaro “a little bitch” at a mayoral debate in 2014, because you know, politics.
There’s only one solution to Ford’s win, and that is to fight. As women, we need to band together and do everything in our power to prevent harmful changes to our province’s government. Because if we can learn anything from our southern neighbours, when problematic men come to power, it’s our duty to resist.
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