Does Doug Ford still have the moral authority to continue as Premier ?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 27th, 2021



The Science Table released their recommendations to Doug Ford and his Cabinet on Wednesday of last week and made them public on Thursday of last week.

Most people fully expected the Cabinet decisions would fairly reflect the recommendations.

Science table logoThey didn’t.

That was the moment when everything just flipped. Police forces across the province said they would not follow the provincial directions that would permit them to stop people and ask where they were going .

Municipalities across the province said they could not see how they could close the public parks.

Several very prominent people on the Science Table were prepared to resign.

Burlington’s Mayor called an Emergency Council meeting for the Saturday.

The Premier reversed his position on a number of items on the Monday but by then the damage was done.

Ford tired April 21

A weary, tired Premier – battered by media, pummeled by public opinion.

During a brutal media event that followed, CTV News reporter Colin D’Mello said to Ford: “… you say the buck stops with you, but I think people across this province are wondering, what does that actually mean? Columnists have recently said there is no effective leadership at Queens Park. Another one said you are showing raging ineptitude, and some are calling for your resignation.”  D’Mello then asked:  “Premier, do you still have the moral authority to lead this province as Premier?

The penny had just dropped.  The public has not seen the Premier since.

John Doyle in his Globe and Mail column on entertainment was just as brutal. On Monday of this week he said: “If you live in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford has been ubiquitous on TV for more than a year. Almost every weekday – rarely on weekends – he’s been part of the local newscasts.

“During this pandemic period, his TV appearances and news conferences have had a strange trajectory. It’s been an up-and-down, zigzagging media strategy that was always going to lead to his recent blubbering, blustering mea culpa-filled news conference from a backyard in northwestern Toronto.

“Ford is not a natural on TV. But, watching him, you suspect he thinks he is. His natural mode is combative, dismissive and inflexible. And that has led him and his handlers down a disastrous road. Only media strategists who are themselves right-wing populists with a pro-business, anti-union agenda could possibly think it was ever going to work long-term through a human catastrophe.

“There was a time, at the start of all this, when Ford’s angry inflexibility fit the occasion. Then it didn’t, mainly because Ford and his communications team ceased to focus on the broad public good and began spinning a narrow political agenda that confounded the public and was aimed at a political base only. Inflexible became insincere and then deceitful.”

Ford gregarious

In his first year he couldn’t be stopped – he was everything to everyone. Then the penny dropped

March of last year Ford was on TV, enraged by price-gouging when a high-end grocery chain began selling hand wipes, usually costing about $8.49, for $30. “Nothing gets me more furious than someone taking advantage and price-gouging the public that are in desperate need of these items,” Ford thundered. He announced he would enact legislation to outlaw the gouging. The grocery chain backed off and apologized.

Ford’s media strategy went awry precisely when he began to ignore medical experts – that’s an example of media-savvy strength vaporizing – and made explicitly political and ideological decisions.

We’ve seen many things in Ontario this past year and among the most bizarre has been the unraveling of a communications plan that, as soon as Ford’s angry inflexibility became a liability, was always going to end in tears.

And so where are we now? The news Monday reporting the death of a 13 year old girl who died at home of a Covid19 infection while her Mother was in the hospital recovering from a Covid19 infection.

The child’s father, the family breadwinner, had to work if the family was to be fed.

The public fully expected the Premier to announce something that reflected the Science Table recommendations. Sick days pay was front and centre along with target vaccinations programs aimed the “hot spots”.

On Friday of last week  – nothing

Saturday, Sunday nothing. Premier Ford does not work weekends.

Surely there would be something on Monday.


Ford - editorial cartoon

Editorial cartoonists had found there mark – they were merciless.

While the provincial leadership appeared to be frozen,  Medical Officers of Health in Brampton and Toronto were inspecting work places where there were large numbers of employees working in crowed conditions.  The different Medical Officers of Health shut plants down for for periods of time.

Not a word from the Chief Medical Officer of Heath for the province reporting on what was happening.

Each day the number of new infections and deaths were reported – positivity rates were above the 10% level.

There had been no action on the desperate need for paying people who should not be reporting for work.

Yesterday and today the public learns that the federal government and the provincial government were bickering over a plan that would put $1000 a week into the pockets of those who  had to stay home from work.

The sticking point was who would run the program.  The federal government has their CERB program – all a person had to do was apply and then wait for the money to appear in their bank account..  The federal program was limited to $500 a week – Ontario said they would top it up to $1000 if the federal government ran it.  The federal government said the computer application wasn’t flexible enough to be revised.

What the public was seeing was the equivalent of a bunch of chickens running around with their heads chopped off – blood all over the place.

Factory and assembly line workers in the Brampton area were, in the words of one scientist, “being left to burn”.

The province was reported to be anxious about how their stakeholders would react to being forced to pay people who did not report for work because they were ill.

Meanwhile Amazon, Sobeys, Loblaws and others were reporting massive revenue gains.

There is a simple solution – have the province order the corporations to pay people if they are not well enough to work and then let the corporations turn to the federal and provincial governments for reimbursement.

Those companies have payroll procedures in place – they can move money into bank accounts in literally minutes.

All we have to do is coax the Premier out of hiding and do another media event where he tells his Minister of Finance and Minister of Labour to get into a conference room (wear your masks – keep six feet apart) and figure this out and have a solution they could take to Cabinet.

The provincial bureaucracy would arrange for pizza and some of that buck a beer to sustain them while they figure it out

We are facing a disaster – we know what has to be done – other jurisdictions have solved this problem.

Ontario, the economic engine of the country, is now relying on medical people from the Maritime provinces and the armed forces to fly in and help us through this.  The last time that happened was when Mel Lastman called in the army to clear snow from the streets.

Andrea_Horwath 2

Could Andrea form a government?

Doug Ford has has shown that he is not up to the job that has to be done.  There isn’t all that much in the way of leadership on the opposition benches to replace the current government and one can’t see any of the Cabinet members itching to be Premier.

Later this week there will be a funeral for a 13 year old girl who died despite her father using CPR to get oxygen into her young lungs.

Nothing in the way of condolences from the Office of the Premier.

These tragedies have to stop.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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10 comments to Does Doug Ford still have the moral authority to continue as Premier ?

  • Albert

    Look at the two alternatives, I’ll stick with Premier Doug all day long

  • Diane Knox

    Prime Ministers, Premiers- elected by their Party-, bring certain Skills/ Philosophies and Party Focus to the electors and we vote. For the next 4 years -They lead, they make decisions!

    The most Effective I have seen in my many years, have had the Wisdom to select a Cabinet–in ALL portfolios, Deputy Ministers, Advisory etc. with the First Hand Knowledge, & forward long term thinking to give the valuable advice for major decisions. And they Listened.- Liberal, Conservative, NDP –does not matter- In time of crisis- you need diverse opinions, consistent
    messages, with support from Experts on your advisory team who have confidence.

    Ford– Lacks the ‘MORAL Leadership” – not my choice of words. Ford chose a Cabinet of Like Minded, Budget cutting etc. (see the ads of that election- & early decisions ) and has held on to these advisors throughout…But Covid sent this Premier and ALL off the path to their vision. Now they stand behind and tell the party line…. I know he cares , I know he inherited the sins of Private LTC, Hydro, deficits from previous governments some his own. But this is the Hand HE was dealt as Leader– Stop the Blame Game, Stop the Pass the Buck game, Start leading.

    No what Mr. Ford lacks is the WISDOM of all great crisis Leaders–Think, Seek answers
    outside of my elected Box and really Listen Yes Listen to the ‘Docs’ as you tell us, .even if it means abandoning beliefs, party policy and elected agendas..

  • Bob

    Let’s put the blame where it lies. All levels of government.
    Has Ford bungled things, yes he has. But it was Teresa Tam who said not to wear a mask originally because we were not smart enough not to touch our face? Yes
    Was it the federal government who refused to shit the borders because it was racist, Yes
    Who took a year to make a mandatory quarantine upon arrival mandatory but only if arriving by air? It wasn’t Doug Ford, he lobbied for over a year to have airports closed.
    Blame all levels of government for saying it was unsafe for them to hold council or parliamentary meetings, yet safe and essential for us to work in a factory with 5000 people. Put 500 people in an IKEA but 6 councillors and the mayor can’t sit in the same chambers
    This paper has ran editorials from the CEO of Joe Brant Hospital pleading their 90+% occupancy and half the COVID-19 cases are the new variants. I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure these variants didn’t swim across the ocean from the UK, Brazil or the new Indian variant. They came in planes. That’s federal responsibility.
    Do I believe Ford is a good leader, not by a long shot, but if we wish to assign blame, let’s spread it equally to all who deserve it.

  • perryb

    Ford’s mistake has been to surround himself with chronic underperformers and yes-persons, so there are no stars on the bench when he finally folds. To deepen the leadership vacuum, where is the Liberal party? Andrea Horwath seems to be a solid performer (reminds me of Angela Merkel) but her party cannot shake the memory (unfair, in my opinion) of Bob Rae from 30 years ago. But if the progressive parties split the vote again we might as well give up and hope the developers don’t screw us too badly.

  • g.fraser

    There is more blame than anyone gov’t can handle.

    There is the Federal Liberals to blame……..and there is a lot.
    There is Ontario’s PC to blame………….and there is a lot.
    There is the Federal and Provincial opposition parties to blame………..and there is a lot.

    No one is blameless for a Pandemic that disclosed ta National lack of pre-emptive foresight in fighting a pandemic. They was recommendation chaired by Dr. Tam that was overlooked by the PC & Liberal Federal Gov’t.

    The ever changing COVID virus have revealed how reactive our Federal & Provincial gov’t are and how little Proactive thought has gone into this pandemic war.

    Hopefully we will learn from this but truthfully with all the gov’t parties fighting for their turf, instead of working as a cohesive gov’t for the betterment of a nation, I doubt it.

    • Phillip Wooster

      Very well stated. Mistakes all around and the worst consequences–deaths, economic recession and business failures, and fiscal disaster. I’m a Conservative but I’m no Doug Ford fan and I feel he should resign as this pandemic finally ebbs by the end of the year and we can pick a new leader who isn’t associated with this fiasco. I’m prepared to take a second look at Patrick Brown who seems to have acquited himself quite well as Mayor of Brampton. Fortunately for the Tories, the Liberals are led by Del Duca (he can’t even local the property line to his house) and the NDP led by Horwath who chief focus has been on whining.

  • Hans Jacobs

    Thank you for a very good editorial.

  • Allan Hale

    Here, Here…well stated Pepper.

  • Steve Holman

    If Andrea forms a government I am leaving the Province