Weird things are happening in Ontario. The premier of the province, a woman generally agreed to be well educated, confident, thoroughly in tune with the times, is virtually keelhauled in recent polling where she resides at an appalling 11 per cent. She is only slightly more popular than traffic tickets and overcooked broccoli (and even those are within the margin of error).
What gives, is the question whispered on every street corner and in every coffee shop. How can Kathleen Wynne have fallen so far when her competition is that other fella, whassiname, that the Progressive Conservatives recently front loaded into their leadership. His charisma floats in the same shallows and he has the inspirational force of kelp. Yet he is miles ahead of the impeccably progressive Wynne. It is not natural. The order of things is awry.
Other unnerving and eerily disturbing manifestations trouble this once stable, well-grounded, equable province. A businesswoman I met recently — on her way, incidentally, to meet with a spiritual adviser — showed me the energy bill for her company. She was distraught and clearly frightened. And with good reason. For very clearly on her bill was a charge for the power she used — the electricity cost. And it was a mere (she employs nearly 40 people) $5,000. There it was on the bill: electricity charges $5,000. But when she forced her wary eyes to the Total Due, the amount had swollen to a terrifying and inexplicable $42,000.
How can this be? she cried. And all around the bank lobby (she was there for a loan, naturally) the echo went, how can this be? How could the add-ons cost SEVEN times more than the power actually consumed? It was like buying a low-end car for $20,000 and being charged $80,000 for the clock in the dash. She was puzzled and put to me, poetically I thought, the question: “Are such things here as I have talked about, or have I eaten on the insane root that takes the prisoner reason?” Would that all business people spoke thus.
Her turn of thought gave me a needed clue. At around this same time my ever news-tuned ear caught the story of a man taken up by Toronto police for dabbling, or presuming to dabble, in the hidden and dark arts. He had siphoned roughly $100,000 from some poor and vulnerable man through the exercise of the fiendish and forbidden practices, dormant for centuries, once known as Malleus Maleficarum. The common translation of the grim title is The Hammer of Witches (more pedantically, The Hammer of Sorceresses).