Rivers on Ford: Was he at the cottage or hiding in the basement of Queen's Park?

By Ray Rivers

January 4th, 2022



Dog Logic – If you don’t see it, then it doesn’t exist. And Ontario’s Premier Ford figures that’ll work for him. If we stop testing, recording and reporting our cases of COVID infection the pandemic will seem… like it’s gone away.

Ontario is in the midst of the largest COVID wave ever and the government is overwhelmed and over its head. Ontario residents got angry last month when the Premier didn’t show up for a briefing on Omicron just as we were entering the Christmas period. Where was he while this new variant was wreaking havoc everywhere and spreading like wildfire is still unknown. But apparently he has a cottage and there is a basement at Queen’s Park where one could hide.

Is the medium the message? Going to take more than a T shirt to command public trust

Nobody blames Ford for the arrival of Omicron, it’s everywhere. But his inaction in the face of this new public crisis is indefensible/inexcusable. Unfortunately it’s a familiar pattern for this premier. He’s been late to act with every wave of COVID – each delay actually exacerbating the problem.

Anybody could have figured out that the viral surge in South Africa, last November, would land on Ontario’s doorstep by December. So what was Ontario’s government waiting for…Christmas? Even the World Health Organization had warned everyone that it was coming. The feds got the message, and Canada banned travellers from seven southern Africa countries as far back as late November.

Mr. Ford referred to the latest variant as spreading like a wildfire. So one would have expected him to have got the water hose out before the flames were already in the living room. But now he acknowledges that it’s too late, and is content to just slow it down. But he’ll use the same tool as always – lockdown restrictions to limit social contact.

No masks required if they are learning at home – question is – are they learning?

He has once again paused in-class education, after a good deal of dithering. Sadly, even as we move into the 3rd calendar year of COVID our schools are still not safe enough to fully resume in-class instruction. And that means there would have been almost certain student-to-student transmission with this highly transmissible variant. So initially the government plan was to hide the statistics – not report cases of infection in schools.

If you don’t see it, then it doesn’t exist. Except parents, teachers and health care professionals were not going to let him get away with that. Rather than suffer a backlash over reporting, Mr. Ford just closed the schools and Ontario is back to remote learning.

And when it comes to transparency, it isn’t just schools. The rules on PCR molecular testing have changed and are now limited only to health professionals and some most vulnerable folks. If you have symptoms and you’re vaccinated, just stay home for 5 days. That is unless you need to show your boss an official positive test result.

The government has suggested people use one of those antigen rapid tests to see if they are positive, as an alternative. But, despite the federal government giving 50 million test kits to Ontario, there are none available. Ontario had been distributing these free rapid test kits in some malls and the odd liquor store – but not apparently anymore. People lined up for hours to get a kit – bearing a close resemblance to characters from the movie ‘Hunger Games’ as they scrambled over one another.

It was pretty much the same sad story when it came to getting a lifesaving booster shot. The province opened up eligibility to non-seniors only after the Omicron wave was on us. People scrambled to make a booking and the booking systems did what they had done before – disappointed or crashed. Even the National Post, a Tory friendly paper couldn’t hold back its disgust.

The government may be right on reporting infection test statistics. What is the point if they are unreliable and unrepresentative? That is a sad admission – so we will be treated to hospital and ICU admissions data from now on instead. Ford’s is not the first government who has wanted to end testing and reporting COVID numbers. Alberta’s Kenny and former US president Trump also tried to trick the public into thinking things were better than they really were by stopping testing.

It’s a new year, but unfortunately it feels even worse that last year, given that we should have learned something from past. The government’s failure to act in a timely fashion is disgraceful. Some experts believe the variant will peak in the next couple weeks and then crash, as it has apparently done in South Africa. But what if it doesn’t? What is Plan B? Dog Logic?

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor,  writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Ontario Restrictions –   Anger at Premier –  School Case Reporting – 

Stampede for Boosters –    Hospital Surge –    Rapid Tests

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9 comments to Rivers on Ford: Was he at the cottage or hiding in the basement of Queen’s Park?

  • Bev

    Why haven’t we heard or seen the Minister of Education lately? He has had 2 summers and many holidays to implement changes to the Schools and he has done very little. Why keep students out of the classrooms.? As a retired educator, I too know what students need. It doesn’t need unqualified politicians making decisions for them. Parents, students, and educators need assistance and support during this pandemic and they certainly aren’t receiving it from this group at Queens Park. June 2nd is only 5 short months away. How much more money will Mr Ford “give away” to get re-elected? Well, sorry Dougie you and your group have already lost.

  • Sharon

    Where is Jane McKenna?

  • As always, very stimulating and informative. I could not help seeing the shadow of U.S. past practices at work, especially when it seems that the economic interests of the few are being placed above the health interests of everyone. Each time this happens the same questions arise: How can people who have demonstrably run functioning businesses not understand an imminent threat to the future of their business? Do the nay sayers and those who refuse to admit the presence of a problem really think they have somewhere to hide? And what do they think will support their coveted lifestyle when they do come out of hiding?

  • perryb

    It would be interesting to know what else the government has being doing below the radar while the public focus has been on the pandemic. Continued unwinding of environmental protections. Ministerial zoning orders to undermine municipalities and reward political supporters, Building an unnecessary highway in valuable farmland. Refusal to deal fairly with optometrists. It goes on quietly. Maybe our MPP knows…what’s her name again?

    • Philip Waggett

      Perry, you clearly don’t like Doug Ford but you might want to dig a little deeper. The transportation woes in the GTA have been many years in the making and they are being exacerbated annually by significant population growth. Perry you forgot to mention the Liberal government in Ottawa who annually are bringing into Canada 400,000 new immigrants, many of whom are living in the GTA. You also forget to mention the setting up of a container transfer station in South Milton that has the potential to further gridlock the QEW–oops, you forgot to mention which government is responsible for this fiasco (hint–it’s in Ottawa).

      But I agree with you–Jane McKenna has been invisible. Very disappointing. I would suggest that she take lessons from Karina Gould, who goes nowhere in the community without her camera crew in tow. She takes so many pictures–the majority of which do not involve her own jurisdiction, that she makes the Selfie-King in Ottawa look like a rank amateur. And Karina always responds to questions with non-answers/word salads approved by the PMO. But hey, she visible.

    • Syd

      Thank you to you, Ray and Diane for voicing my own concerns about the government’s handling of the covid crisis, especially when they show no indication of having learned from past experience. I just sent this off to our MPP, striving to remain civil;

      “I see that the federal government is sending more rapid antigen tests to the provinces. I can only hope that your government will seriously think about a more equitable way of distributing these kits so that people who don’t have school age children or who aren’t willing or able to stand in line for hours can get them.
      How about mailing them to everyone with an OHIP card or delivering a box to every household? Surely even neighbourhood volunteers could be recruited, as you do for delivering electioneering materials? I’m sure if anyone has already gone to the expense of buying them out of frustration with the way they are being distributed, they might share your free one with people who need more than one.
      It is very frustrating to see the haphazard delivery of these kits that we have all paid for with our taxes – they should not be a gift to those who can line up, with no id to limit to one per household.
      Thanks for listening – I know that everyone I’ve talked to over the holidays feels the same. I hope you will work to change your Health minister’s policies.”

      Probably they will not understand that a free box of rapid antigen tests and no testing or vaccination lines would be far more welcome and effective at getting support ( never from me!), than an election pamphlet……

  • Diane Knox

    Indeed, Ray- if “you do not see it it does not exist..” a Mantra of Prov Gov when it comes to Education

    If this Premier and his ‘Private Schooled’ Education Minister and his ‘Home schooled’ Advisor who have never been in a Public School in 20 months except for a photo OP in an empty hallway, nor spent a Full day in a Special needs classroom with the Teachers and EA’s who have Always been in school, nor do not even show up for questions on school rulings Jan 3- well yes- for them there is no problem.

    When will this government recognize that schools are more than buildings. That they are Essential- but so are the workers. Did all teachers get a rapid test kit last day? NO! Were teachers and EA’s of Special Needs given Priority for Boosters -NO! On Jan 17th, will every teacher have an N95 mask, every classroom have Hepa filter or even an open window??. Rapid tests? Or will these Educators be forced to buy their own as many already have., line up at a Liquor store and search to get a Booster. The Feds say they are coming–will they be a priority for the Schools and the safety of children of our future? or ???
    All Qualified teachers, EA’s and certainly Parents in this Province have learned In Person Learning is Essential for the Mental, Social and above all Academic needs of all Students. Those academic gaps will come back for years to come. On line is only for the Few.

    As a former 45 year teacher, administrator qualified to Teach from K to Teacher Ed. and has evaluated at all levels I give this Government an “F” on this assignment. More research and experiential learning is necessary.

    • Anne-Marie+Tywonek

      Diane, well stated. BRAVO!!! My children are older in post secondary education but even they are feeling discombobulated about this entire thing. As a qualified Adult Education educator, I give you an A+ in your summation of the poor performance of our MOE.

  • Hans Jacobs

    Will omicron co-exist with other variants, or somehow magically displace them?