The whole issue of full IBI funding for children with autism past age 5 has been raging in the province of Ontario for quite some time, exemplified in the popular use of the hashtag #AutismDoesntEndAt5. But regardless of your opinion on this particular issue, I believe most of us would agree about the fundamental right to protest your government at whatever setting, as long as it remains peaceful. It would be an overreaction for any person, certainly an elected member of the Ontario Legislature, to contact the police to ‘inquire’ what the person protesting is planning to do before that protest actually began. You definitely wouldn’t do it if the protester was a working mother of an autistic 6 year old boy…but that’s exactly what happened.
Bob Delaney is the Liberal MPP for Mississauga Streetsville, first elected in the 2003 provincial election. Although he is a veteran MPP in the governing caucus serving under both Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, he has never made it to cabinet and the closest he ever got to cabinet was Chief Government Whip, a role he assumed from 2014-2015. Now, usually when a politician has been elected for that long, at least a decade, you kind of get a little self-centred and feel a bit arrogant about yourself. But last week, he did something that goes beyond the pale of arrogance.
As the Toronto Star article I provided a link for outlines, Melanie Palaypayon had her Friday planned out. The Mississauga mother intended to park herself outside her MPP’s constituency office, one Bob Delaney, hand out flyers and hold a solo protest against new provincial autism rules that mean her 6-year-old son is no longer eligible for intensive behavioral intervention. She’d even told staff in Liberal Bob Delaney’s office she was coming. Until Peel Regional Police banged on her front door at 8:30 that morning, questioning what her intentions were that day. You can listen to the conversation between the officers and Palaypayon which was recorded for the Toronto Star.
So instead of taking it in stride and allowing this one woman to voice her disappointment over the government’s policy affecting her son, this man decided to call the police to do his dirty work, which I’m assuming is getting rid of unseemly distractions outside his office. This to me just goes to the height of arrogance for someone in high elective office. Former Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin tweeted about this incident, and indicated that Delaney apparently compared his position identical to the President of the United States (or, as he put it, that other guy with the oval shaped office). Cue the eye rolling, please! I’m not saying every politician acts like this; in fact Charles Sousa’s office handled autism protesters in a much more easier and appropriate fashion: by letting them protest outside his office as long as they wanted. Delaney’s actions apparently trickled down and is now affecting some of his other colleagues in other parts of Ontario.
For full disclosure, I actually helped on his re-election campaign some 9 years ago, and didn’t really think much about him since then. He always came off to be as someone who enjoyed being in the team in power up at Queen’s Park and his demeanor definitely comes off many times as arrogant. My opinion of him wasn’t that high to begin with for some time, and it’s definitely not getting any higher now.
If you would like to get in touch with Bob to tell him personally what you think about this situation, his office can be reached at 905-569-1643 and is located at 2000 Argentia Road, Suite 200 (that’s Plaza IV, according to his MPP website).
UPDATE: Premier Kathleen Wynne has called on Delaney to apologize to Ms. Palaypayon and will have a meeting with him later today to discuss how he’s going to fix this. I’m guessing Delaney would like to put this matter behind him…