Ontario premier Doug Ford heads a Progressive Conservative (PC) government, but that hasn’t kept critics from accusing him of bringing in some pretty woke policies during his first term.
The slang term “woke” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” A variation on “awake,” the definition suggests that woke people conduct themselves in a way that is fully conscious of society’s deepening sensitivities.
Most of the accusations of wokeism against the Ford government involve education, with some accusing the PCs of wanting to introduce Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender identity ideology into Ontario’s classrooms.
True North has compiled a list of instances where the Ford government promoted policies or used language that comes across as woke.
1. Funding for “LGBT2SQ” children – March 2022
On the “International Transgender Day of Visibility,” Ford’s associate minister of children and women’s issues Jane McKenna announced an investment of over $800,000 for the next three years aimed at developing “affirming and inclusive services and supports” for LGBT2SQ children and youth.
“Our government recognizes more needs to be done to improve outcomes for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Two Spirit and queer children and youth in our child welfare system,” said McKenna.
The announcement came just days after Florida Republican governor Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education law, which banned the instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten to grade three classrooms.
2. Bill 67 – March 2022
In March, Ontario PC MPPs supported the Racial Equity in the Education System Act – also known as Bill 67 – at second reading. The controversial private member’s bill had experts warning it could lead to the entrenchment of CRT in Ontario Schools.
The anti-racism bill – introduced by NDP MPP Laura Mae Lindo – would have mandated schools to put in place a plan for “anti-racism and racial equity requirements that apply to every college of applied arts and technology and every university that receives ongoing operating funds from the government.”
The bill would have also introduced “fines for persons who disrupt or attempt to disrupt proceedings of a school or class through the use of racist language or activities.”
Despite having the support of Ford’s PCs in second reading, Bill 67 did not make it to third reading. Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell dissolved the provincial parliament at the request of Premier Doug Ford on May 3, ahead of the Ontario election, causing the bill to die.
3. New “Equitable” Math Curriculum – June 2021
Last summer, the Ford government unveiled its new “equitable” Grade 9 math curriculum that claimed “mathematics can be subjective.” Ford had promised during the 2018 election campaign to reform Ontario’s math curriculum.
“Mathematics has been used to normalize racism and marginalization of non-Eurocentric mathematical knowledges, and a decolonial, anti-racist approach to mathematics education makes visible its historical roots and social constructions,” documents supporting the new curriculum read.
Despite the government previously standing by it, Education Minister Stephen Lecce ordered the controversial wording to be removed. Lecce, who led the education ministry through some of the longest Covid school closures in Canada, has also personally been accused of being woke.
In a Nov. 2021 op-ed in the National Post, author Jamil Jivani said that Lecce was “a woke liberal in conservative clothing who has turned his back on parents.”
“Lecce offers the kind of virtue signalling that Ontarians came to expect from the previous Liberal government, and very little in terms of real solutions that would benefit children.”
4. “Pregnant Individuals” – April 2021
Ontario’s health minister Christine Elliott and other members of the Ford government referred to pregnant women as “pregnant individuals” when announcing in Apr. 2021 that the demographic was now eligible to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
The term resonates with other controversial gender-neutral terms used by progressivist Democrats in the United States, including congresswoman Cori Bush’s use of the term “birthing people.”
Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam had previously used the terms “pregnant and breastfeeding people” while promoting Covid shots.
5. Sex Ed Curriculum – August 2019
After promising to repeal Kathleen Wynne’s liberal sex ed curriculum – which taught elementary school students about such concepts as gender identity, anal sex and masturbation – the Ford government released a new curriculum containing the same topics.
While some more controversial topics like gender identity were moved up to middle school, sexual orientation was moved down from grade six to grade five. Teachers were also able to continue teaching students about masturbation in grade six and anal sex in grade seven.
Parental rights advocate Tanya Granic Allen had reacted by tweeting, “(t)he radical Wynne sex-ed is still there – ALL OF IT. And gender identity is mentioned 40 times”
“This curriculum is another Doug Ford betrayal. Ford LIED to the parents.”
It should be noted, however, that the Ford government introduced a new policy making it easier for parents to “opt out” of lessons taught within the new curriculum.
In addition to his government aligning itself with elements of progressivism, Ford has praised Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on several occasions.
“I absolutely love Chrystia Freeland. She’s amazing. I’ll have her back, I’ll help her anyway we can”, said Ford back in 2020 following her appointment as Canada’s new finance minister.
In 2018, Ford campaigned as a right-of-centre populist in both the PC Party leadership race and the Ontario general election. However, some political analysts now say he has shifted to the centre.
Ahead of the election, Ford’s government also presented the most expensive budget in Ontario history, with a $19.9 billion deficit – higher than those presented by previous Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne.
The 2022 Ontario general election will take place on Jun. 2. According to 338Canada, Ford’s PCs are currently leading in the polls and are on track to win another majority government.