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Doug Ford has a (deliberate) Justin Trudeau problem
Do not adjust your sets, the Premier of Ontario remains committed to a one-sided friendship with a PM deserving of little trust, and less respect. Rational Ontarians have every right to feel insulted.
I don’t enjoy writing about Doug Ford. In fact, when I first started this Substack, I swore an oath to myself that I would kick things off with a bountiful Ford-free fall. Best not to scare away the subscribers too quickly.
Over the past two-and-a-half years, I’ve made a bit of a habit and name for myself by being one of those conservative-adjacent critics who weren’t afraid to speak out against a government that should have known better. At first, we were a small group swimming upstream, but as each asinine press conference rolled into the next, and certain breathlessly incompetent ‘public health’ measures mounted (read: parks, playgrounds, golf courses, schools, gyms, businesses that weren’t big box stores, falling for the ‘science table’ trap of authoritarian checkpoints or police checks, mandates) eventually we found strength in safer numbers.
Truth be told: this has often put me in a difficult spot. I have friends at Queen’s Park, many of whom are in positions of real influence, and, you should be happy to know, are dedicated public servants who hold many of the same concerns as you or I.
But play the game they must, and I respect them for it all the same. Not everyone has what it takes to put it all on the line in the public square. To risk election failure and one’s very livelihood every four years should be commended. It takes confidence and conviction; not to mention it takes a real mental and physical toll on those who serve.
I have tremendous admiration for these professionals and some of the stories they have shared (which will stay relatively opaque out of respect for their station and in keeping with general human decency), so I planned to ease up just a touch as I launched this newsletter. I had other things to say, and actual everyday Canadian concerns to help validate, and I wanted to be part of turning the tide in Canadian media back toward the independent consumer, and away from thinly-veiled, state-sponsored copypasta.
Even as an Emergencies Act Inquiry turns to dust in the palms of all those who wished to leverage a pretend January 6th for their own gain, the Premier of Ontario still chooses to stand by a Prime Minister of Canada with a growing banana republic track record that would make even dearly-departed Uncle Fidel blush.
So much for those best-laid plans for a Ford-free fall.
As a writer, you never want to come across as one-note, but when that little piece of sheet music with limited range matters to those so thoroughly mistreated inside the one-time lockdown capital of North America, every now and then you feel obligated to play the hits.
For sake of balance, let’s touch on a few deliberately non-transparent ‘truth be tolds,’ ‘benefits of the doubt,’ and even engage in a little kindness:
Doug Ford doesn’t believe in half the things he’s made to say. (In a good way.)
Caucus meetings were even more divided and contentious over restrictions than even the Conservative-friendly media leaks mentioned at the time.
He really did lose sleep over the past two-and-a-half years. The list of politicians who take midnight phone calls from anguished constituents remains impossibly low, but Ford is one of those rare birds. (For contrast, soon-departed Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson recently admitted to putting his phone on airplane mode most nights.)
If they weren’t trying to secure re-election, and protect businesses and families from crazier, CCP-adjacent ‘Covid zero’ ideals, they wouldn’t have pulled many of the public health stunts that they did.
Ontario, at the very best of times, is a ruthless, District of Columbia-like swamp where special interests play political parties like a fiddle, and the threat of wild-cat teachers’ union strikes and bloated, bureaucratic hospital union shenanigans often have the government over a barrel. Throw in a few cozy and compromised special interest relationships with an ever-incurious Queen’s Park Press Gallery and the like-minded champagne-socialist scribes in heavily subsidized media outfits like the Toronto Star, and nary a day would go by where the elected leaders of Canada’s largest province were able to focus on anything but putting out fires — even if some of those were indeed self-set.
It also bears repeating that Ontario needed protection from the third-party log-rolling of one Steven Del Duca. To say this writer wasn’t a fan would be an understatement:
When the leader of the Queen’s Park visitors’ gallery was finally and mercifully put out to pasture (hard to believe he couldn’t succeed on a platform that promised to kick hundreds of thousands of Ontario schoolchildren out of the classroom for not keeping up on the mRNA treadmill), one could have been forgiven for thinking that this was the end of policies of appeasement, and of being beholden to far-left bureaucrats, academics, and hysteric managerial-class ideologues who never cared for trickle down mandate harms, just as long as they could continue to feel like they were on the side of the angels.
If Patrick Swayze’s beloved performance as the king of all bouncers — or, ‘coolers’ — in the B-movie classic Road House taught this writer anything, it’s important “to be nice, until it’s time to not be nice.”
Now, it’s time to not be nice.
When Ford dives headlong back into the offensive comms strategies of those horrible days gone by, common-sense Ontarians have every right to feel angry and insulted, be they died-in-the-wool PC Party supporters, or reluctant converts who feel increasingly disregarded by a modern left-wing apparatus that operates in near-total disregard of realistic principles and lived realities.
The strategy of keeping Justin Trudeau close is a shrewd one, and it’s not without its benefits. By running Liberal-adjacent, in a federal Liberal stronghold, any ‘Conservative’ campaign is harder to wedge, it makes it much harder for the destitute Ontario Liberals to rebuild, and when you kowtow to an often illiberal PM who is still beloved (or now, perhaps, merely preferred) by members of the legacy press, you’re spared from much of the fallout from, say, reckless, grid-threatening green energy policies, the deleterious effects of school closures and cloth masks on children, or the incredible anti-science that has been evidence-free vaccine discrimination.
Yet that doesn’t make it right, and it certainly hasn’t spared the premier from being consistently thrown under the bus.
When the very same prime minister who fled to Harrington Lake on a rapid test and a dream accuses you of “hiding” during convoy protests, that’s no friend at all. But, of course, Ford and his team know that. By keeping him close, the partisan games are made easier. To Ford’s credit, he has always been able to take a punch.
How unfortunate, however, that this is how they choose to deploy the immense soft skills of one of the most gifted retail politicians of his era. If Ford was “hiding,” Trudeau, cowering in his cottage, was busy laying the seeds for a militarized crackdown on Canadian protestors through a hopefully once-in-a-lifetime abuse of an Emergencies Act that exists solely for threats to national security, and of which there were none.
Even in this divisive and performative era of politics of aggrievement, wrong must still be wrong. In a rare bipartisan feat, both the Liberal Party of Canada and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario remain willingly, inescapably out of line when it comes to excusing the sins of big government overreach, overreaction, and the residual harms they’ve so carelessly wrought.
I don’t enjoy writing about Doug Ford.
Next time, for the sake of millions who just want to be left alone, I hope that he doesn’t make it so easy.
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