Rivers asks: Has Ford Been Playing Us ?


Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

May 22nd, 2021



Doug Ford is right about one thing. Ontario residents will only stop getting sick and dying after we’ve all had our shots. That is because he has been unable and/or unwilling to control the transmission of the virus.

It’s been over a month since he applied his famous emergency brake. And despite the so-called shut down we’re still hitting a couple thousand cases and a couple dozen deaths a day. Yet the reason why it’s taking so long is obvious.

Ford gregarious

Ontario had elected a populist – when the pandemic hit he was expected to lead – many were disappointed.

He shut down the wrong part of Ontario’s economy. Almost 70 percent of COVID transmission in hot spot Toronto, for example, has been taking place in the workplace among factory and warehouse workers and the construction trades.

Had Ford made these folks stay at home we might have seen real and rapid reductions in the numbers. Killing the provincial sick pay plan just made it worse. According to a Peel region study 25% of the industrial workforce had been showing up at work with COVID symptoms.

Ford promised to be brutal at his disastrous April media conference, and he was. But he brutalized the wrong folks. Shutting down outdoor recreational activities, including golf and tennis, which had never reported a case of COVID, was just mean… and stupid.

Doug Ford covid t shirt

Leading the province through a pandemic proved to be more than the Premier and his Cabinet could handle.

But if Ford really wanted to bring the numbers down he should have focused on the sectors where transmission is high. Instead, it was all a smokescreen. He declared residential construction an essential service. How could building a new subdivision in a time of COVID be considered essential?

Mr. Ford’s legislative record makes it clear that he has used the pandemic as a cover to fast track development in the province. His government passed a number of COVID recovery laws last year. And they were more about development than anything else. He has enacted his autocratic Minster’s Zoning Orders, ignoring and bypassing local councils and their voters’ wishes on development.

Ford has unearthed a plan to build a new 400 series highway (413) on property held by a group of developers, who collectively have contributed close to a million dollars to Ford’s party since 2014. They own 39 properties along the proposed route covering 3,300 acres, which is worth about half a billion dollars in today’s market. But their windfall profit is expected to inflate wildly from adjacent sprawl development once the highway is approved.

Ford Doug with graph Apr 16

Scientists were providing solid data – the Premier seemed to use what worked for his agenda.

He has stripped conservation authorities of their role in the approval of new developments that can affect them and all of us. In protest, former Toronto Mayor and Mulroney cabinet minister David Crombie, has resigned as chair of the Greenbelt. And in an insult to everyone who cares about the environment, Ford replaced him with former Harris environment minister Norm Sterling, of Walkerton crisis fame, who actually voted against establishing the Greenbelt.

The speed with which this government is undoing decades of environmental protection in the province is stunning. One has to ask whether Ford is packing in as much development as he can before the next election. And that, apparently, takes priority over controlling COVID.

Ford OPEN for business

It was always about business – the closer they could get to the Premier the better it was for the development community. And they certainly did manage to get very close.

But as the numbers surged this past March, and infected people overwhelmed Ontario’s hospitals, Ford needed to appear to be doing something – to be taking charge. So he scapegoated the federal government and played the rest of us.

His stay at home order was brutal and tough, especially on children and their parents. But it has had little effect on COVID transmission. The numbers are falling because we are getting vaccinated. The stay at home order was mainly just for show.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province.


Background links:

Friends with Benefits –     Sick Pay –     Under Cover

Emergency Order –     Construction COVID –       Small Gatherings –

MZO –      Crombie Resigns

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8 comments to Rivers asks: Has Ford Been Playing Us ?

  • kevin

    like it was said, long term care under mcdinky and whats her name or horvath was never improved during their 15 years in power ,how can you blame ford when the virus hit. trudo sent millions of (expired PPE’s) to china just when we needed them for our front line workers ,airports were running full tilt as well as borders yet you blame ford ,he made mistakes but so did every province

  • Phillip Wooster

    Ray, there must be a federal election on the horizon as the federal Liberals and your hero, Trudeau, are pushing hard on the blame game themselves, trying to distract attention away from their own ineptitude.

    Yes, Ford has made many mistakes during this pandemic–that’s undeniable as he has whipsawed between the public health crisis on one hand and the crippling blows to small business on the other. I am appalled at the disaster in the long-term care homes as are you and Ford should have done a much better job on this. What the crisis in LTC has shown is that the industry was ripe for disaster after the neglect and shoddy living conditions had been allowed to fester over a few decades, as noted by Ontario’s auditor-general (strange Ray that I can’t find any articles you’ve written exposing this alarming situation under the previous 15 years of Liberal neglect). I also believe that Ford should have done a much better job of protecting workplaces from the virus–he really must shoulder much of the blame for this.

    I for one am of the opinion that Ford should resign as Premier, I believe he has lost the confidence of the people of Ontario. New leadership is clearly needed before the next provincial election. On the other hand, can you really believe that Del Duca (who can’t even locate his own property line) and Horwath whose strings are manipulated by the teacher union bosses will do a better job?

    However, where I really take exception to your politically-biased article, is the free pass that you give to Trudeau. Trudeau has failed on so many fronts and left the crisis to be dealt with by the provinces. His primary failure has been his refusal to adequately protect the borders–he failed at the outset of the pandemic and he continues to do so; Ford is right when he say that these variants didn’t just swim here. He failed when he allowed the national stockpile of PPE to be reduced to bare bones levels prior to the pandemic and he had cut the budget to rebuild it back in 2015. And while I’m pleased that we see increasing supplies of vaccine–at long last, the fact is he was late to the game in his procurement plan. And we continue to see roadblocks being placed on Canadians trying to access surplus vaccine supplies in the USA.

  • Carol Victor

    A true Conservative for sure…big business gets a pass and everyone else has to suffer…keeps blaming the Feds at every news brief..cross border travel has contributed little to outbreaks…recreational sports has contributed nothing ….we got what we voted for….let’s not make the same mistake next time around.

  • V. Muller

    Right on the button, Ray, now how can we get Ford to read it, (or have someone read it to him !).

  • Diane Knox

    Many issues of Covid date back to previous PC governments ON/CA, none more so than “common sense”. However 2016, ‘Time for a change’, we voted for a small business man, remember ‘buck a beer’,’ trim the debt’ etc. who created a Cabinet of common sense leftovers and put them and others in charge of the Major Provincial cost portfolios-Health, Education, LTC. and then came Covid.
    Common sense would be change the focus–but, instead we got the blame game- not for their sins of the past but, the previous govs NDP, Libs, the Feds etc. But they talked the party line, the “dithering”, revolving door of in and out of this and that which still leaves all with????.
    And in the midst of this–The environment assault–Who does this Leader and this party Serve and Protect to build a Future? An Election is coming. Thank You Ray, yes I remember You in 1995.

  • Tom Muir

    Good piece Ray – right on the money, covering many of the bases, in factual respect. Ford has pandemic blood on his hands. He can’t lie his way out of it. Or blame others.

    He sold us out, as the evidence shows.

    What Ford is doing for developers takes my breath away in its scope and audacity – more lies, like affordable housing, which can no longer exist and never really has except in past lies with the same purpose.

    How many did COVID sicken and kill in the “essential activity” of subdivision construction?

    We need much more attention to this atrocious track record for the coming election.

  • Hans Jacobs

    “How could building a new subdivision in a time of COVID be considered essential?”
    It depends on how we define “essential”. Anyone who has sold their home and is hoping that their new home will be completed in time for the closing of the sale, so that they will have a place to live, would probably consider construction essential.
    There should have been new legislation, to allow for COVID related delays in real estate transactions, to avoid the potential chaos.

  • Larry Pinto

    There is absolutely no doubt that he is completely in league with his money grabbing cronies. The very fact that he wants to award Harris – who has enriched himself over the dead bodies at seniors homes – the order of Ontario, tells it all. There is a condo building going up next door, no masks, no social distancing, no wonder!!!