13 August 2018

On Empty Bookshelves & the Premier's Health

It's been forty-four days since Doug Ford was sworn in as Premier of Ontario. I didn't predict his election here – not exactly – but I did in a bet made at a dinner party the previous month. Won a pint of German lager as a result. I would've risked public drunkenness in sharing my other predictions:

I was sure that Ford would fire Molly Sachet, Ontario's Chief Scientist, despite assurances that he wouldn't. Ford did that on day five.

I was certain he would cancel the basic income pilot project, though Ford told us he wouldn't. We had to wait until day thirty-one for that one.

I would have wagered much more than a beer that Ford's personal assistant, Lyndsey Vanstone, would continue to draw a paycheque for pretending to be a reporter. She's done just that as the lone voice of Ontario News Now.

Ontario News Now describes itself on Facebook as a "News & Media Website," though it isn't news and has no website. Government propaganda, pure and simple, it hasn't attracted much of a following. ONN's Facebook likes amount to between 0.012% and 0.013% of the province's population. Its YouTube channel has 248 subscribers. I've been paying attention only because, as a taxpayer, I'm funding the damn thing.

Can't say I've been getting my money's worth, though the most recent video, "A day in the life of Premier Doug Ford," has proven interesting. To begin with, it's narrated by the premier himself:
Well, from the second I get up it's go, go, go. From six o'clock in the morning, you get up and you're off to the races. The bell goes off and you're out of the gate. There, there's so many briefings. We have major announcements. And some days we, we go into Question Period. Then I have meetings with caucus.
A bit short on detail, to be sure, but there are two moments that I think are key to understanding his actions of the premier. The first begins at 0:28, at which point we're given a glimpse of his office.

The empty bookshelves should not surprise – this is, after all, the same Doug Ford who, as a Toronto city councillor, voted to slash libraries. He argued that his ward had more branches than Tim Horton's franchises – overestimating the former by a factor of ten – and had this to say about one Torontonian who spoke out against the cuts:
Good luck to Margaret Atwood. I don't even know her. She could walk right by me, I wouldn't have a clue who she is.
No doubt.

The second begins at 0:42, ending the video:

eventually I get to go home.
I actually physically walk through my door about
12:30 - 1:00 in the morning so I try to get
four or five hours sleep and we're back at it.
Sleep deprivation impairs, which may explain the premier's inability to tell time or differentiate between day and night. I like to think so – and that a good eight or nine hours of sleep would lead to better policy. The best book I've read on the topic is Sleep Thieves (New York: Free Press, 1996), in which UBC prof Stanley Coren destroys the myth that great leaders sleep very little. He draws on scientific studies in reporting that lack of sleep impairs concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. He looks at the effects of sleep deprivation on the economy (a recent Rand Corporation study put the cost at 1.35% of Canada's GDP). Finally, Coren warns of health implications, which include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

For his own good, and that of the province, I urge Doug Ford to read Sleep Thieves – not only for the information it contains, but because reading has been shown to increase intelligence and empathy.

The Toronto Public Library holds several copies.

The premier need only present his library card.

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  1. I'm probably reading too much into this but I almost got the impression that you don't care for our homegrown version of Donald Trump. :-)

    1. I care enough to warn the premier that his health is in jeopardy. Nothing more.

  2. Dont bother warning him..The Citizens of Ontario will thank you

    1. My hope was that he would step down for health reasons.

      You know, like Richard Nixon.

  3. The bookshelves. So much said with nothing there.