In this campaign, one might presume that Premier Dalton McGuinty would be facing most of the fire over his broken promises – whether from outraged taxpayers or parents of autistic children or drivers on the 407. But it isn’t so. Rather, it is Tory who is on the firing line, with his proposal to extend public funding to “faith-based” schools.
– Ian Urqhart, Limelight not the spot for Tory
One day after taking a battering from all sides over his backtracking on funding for faith-based schools, Tory paused to compose himself when recounting the plight of a woman he met while visiting Flemingdon Park, a low-income, high-crime neighbourhood in northeast Toronto.
She “greeted me at the door with her disabled son in a wheelchair who had his tonsils out,” Tory said, his voice cracking, “and in the course of having his tonsils out he had damage done to his brain – an ordinary operation to have his tonsils out.”
“She’d moved the hospital bed on to the main floor of her house in Flemingdon Park because he had to sleep there in the living room … and she told me that she had to carry him up the stairs … only once a day to go to the bathroom. This is a boy of 8 years old so he probably weighed about 65 pounds – she’s a reasonably small woman.”
Tory said he mentioned the encounter in a speech on Sept. 5 and a woman in the audience then told her husband, who offered to donate an old lift device for the stairs so the boy can more easily get to the bathroom upstairs.
“So right now, they’re looking in that unit – and I’m dealing with the housing corporation from the back of my bus – to see if we can possibly put that into that woman’s home,” he said, adding he’s also arranged free installation for the stair-lift.
“I’m just telling you when I see those things, that’s the way I react. How can we possibly live with ourselves when we have that kind of thing going on in a wealthy society like this?
– Robert Benzie, Plight of poor brings Tory to tears
(Yes, Saint John has always been renowned for displaying empathy towards the disabled.)