Last updated on April 22nd, 2021 at 07:22 pm
#WhereIsDougFord was trending on Twitter on Tuesday. He was also a no-show in the House for the second day running as a third wave of the coronavirus sweeps the province.
The premier’s office released a statement late Tuesday just before 11 pm saying that a member of his staff who “came into close contact” with Ford had tested positive for COVID. The statement says the staffer had found out about their positive test Tuesday evening. The statement goes on to say the premier left the Legislature and was tested for COVID “immediately upon learning that they had been at risk of exposure.” The statement says the premier’s results came back negative but that he will “follow all public health advice” and isolate.
The development is the latest twist in what has become a chaotic political situation for Ford over his mishandling of the COVID crisis.
The premier has a habit of disappearing when the shit hits the fan. And it has big-time, over his epic fumble of a third wave of the virus. It’s even made headlines in the U.S. where the Washington Post carried a story on the weekend by Ottawa-based writer David Moscrop calling on Ford to resign.
That would be the honourable thing to do given the number of lives the premier has put in peril. But that ain’t gonna happen for a number of reasons. First and foremost among them is hubris.
Dougie will never admit to making a mistake. History shows that when he’s cornered, he’d rather make like a badger and eat his own genitals than give in. Besides, he doesn’t believe he’s done anything wrong. He’s been listening to the expert advice all along, right?
Then there’s Ford’s caucus and cabinet. The PCPO is still very much the party of Ford.
Save for a handful of anti-lockdown types pissed that they have to wear masks in public, not one among them has had the courage to call Ford out publicly over the government’s pandemic response – sorry, whining over giving cops more powers to enforce the province’s current stay-at-home order doesn’t count.
The truth is Ford’s cabinet and caucus are just as culpable for playing along with Ford’s ruse. Their silence is complicity. On that front, none has been more disappointing than health minister Christine Elliott.
Ford’s leadership contender was supposed to be the adult in the room. But she’s been part of the COVID cover-up, unable to even bring herself these days to mention the number of people who are dying from the virus in her daily Twitter updates. It’s been a massive political embarrassment for Elliott, who served as the province’s former patient advocate before she decided to run for re-election in 2018.
The same goes double for Ford’s other point person on the coronavirus – education minister Stephen Lecce – who only occupies a seat in cabinet as a favour seemingly to Ford’s development friends in the 905. But that’s another story.
Doug thought he could outrun the virus. It was a fool’s game, of course. The premier had one job – and that was to protect Ontarians. Instead, he tried to do what he always does when confronted with a problem – he tried to finagle his way around it.
When that wasn’t working, he played the blame game, turning his sights on the feds for their alleged botched rollout of vaccines. He’s a master of deflection. But now that the variant of the virus has wreaked havoc on Ford’s plans to ride the crisis to another electoral victory, he’s gone MIA.
Last weekend he notified the official opposition that he intends to shut down the Legislature before being forced to backtrack. That would be par for the course for Ford. His bungling of the crisis can’t be overstated. It’s so monumental that it might be mistaken as a deliberate attempt by the premier to destroy any confidence Ontarians have in governments and public services. That was part of his agenda when he got elected.
Ford doesn’t believe in government. He never believed the science on COVID either, despite his public pronouncements. There have been hints of that throughout the crisis – his trip to the cottage during the first lockdown, his blurting out that he had Easter dinner with the fam, and those pics of his attendance at a wedding last summer (sans mask).
Anyone who has been paying attention could see the red flags. But media being what it is these days, it’s hard for the public to cut through the bullshit.
The biggest warning was the way Ford was willing to play chicken with the lives of our kids in his fight with teachers’ unions over school openings and closings. But it was easy for the public to lose sight of Ford’s callousness in the glow of a summer reprieve from the deadly effects of the virus and advice that the mental health effects of the coronavirus were taking a toll on kids.
But it’s clear now (if it wasn’t before) that for Ford the coronavirus was just another opportunity to save his ass from political oblivion after a first year in office that featured a full-frontal assault on social services, including the gutting of public health services, and saw his poll numbers sink to the lowest in the land. Instant karma is mofo.
Except, now Ford may have botched his re-election chances even with a comfortable majority of seats. It isn’t just COVID deniers that are fed up with Doug. It’s those folks across Ontario who didn’t know what the eff they were getting themselves into when they voted for him the first time.
The province is now signalling that it’s willing to reinstate paid sick days for essential workers, which it got rid of after being elected. The measure is seen as crucial to fighting the spread of the virus.
Ford is in full-on damage control mode. He’s betting this will all blow over. With a year to go before the next election, he’s banking on it with a $1,000 Zoom fundraiser scheduled for later this week.
This article, which was originally published on Tuesday evening April 19, was updated at 8:40 am on Wednesday April 21 to reflect developments in the story.