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EDITORIAL: Time for Ford to press “eject” (Summer 2019)

July 16th, 2019 · No Comments

A recent poll confirms that Doug Ford’s favourability ratings are falling hard and fast. His level of support is lower than Kathleen Wynne’s was at the end of her tenure, lower, as the president of Mainstreet Research Quito Maggi says, than any incumbent premier has ever seen this soon after being elected. 

Mainstreet asked voters what choice they would make if there were an election today and 39.9% (+13.9% since April) approved of interim Liberal leader John Fraser. 

If Toronto Mayor John Tory were leading the party, the poll says the Liberals would do even better.

In response to the news of his government’s trouble and getting booed off stage at public events, Ford has axed his most prominent cabinet ministers. Just two months after delivering a miserly budget, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli is dumped. 

After a series of blunt and insensitive efforts to push through an ill-conceived plan to change the way autism programming is delivered, Lisa McLeod finds herself demoted from the head of Children, Families and Social Services to minister of tourism. 

Caroline Mulroney is relieved of her post as attorney general over cuts to Legal Aid Ontario which will, by definition, target the most vulnerable. Lisa Thompson loses the chair of education minister after clashing with school boards over cuts that will lead to larger classes sizes, saying it would make students more resilient. Nice. 

It would be optimistic to think this shuffle indicated some kind of shift in the government’s approach, but are these ministers actually the problem? Ford’s government is deeply centralized, and its agenda is nothing short of insane. 

We can’t blame the ministers for failing to carry out his edicts, but we can blame them for failing to stand up to their leader and his hand-picked team of staff.

Premier Ford must sense that his attempt to rebrand his government falls short, just a little. 

He skipped all of the external appointment processes and recommended several insiders for lucrative jobs, including a 26-year-old named Tyler Albrecht to the post of Ontario’s agent-general in New York City. The position earns $185,000 plus expenses. Albrecht is a friend of Dean French’s son, a lacrosse buddy. 

Fortunately the appointment has already been rescinded, but the take away from this bit of drama is that the new cabinet approved it uncritically. 

Doug Ford is still Doug Ford. He’s hapless, inexperienced, and lacks understanding of the workings of government. 

He has no interest in deep briefings. He likes to get into scrappy political fights and is quick to U-turn when there is a backlash or to fire people when things don’t go his way.

Ford’s sagging popularity has reached, in short order, a tipping point, recovery from which is extremely unlikely. 

Avoiding public events for the next three years for fear of being booed is hardly a manifestation of “governing for the people”. 

It’s time for Ford to consider a graceful resignation, even though grace might be hard to muster.


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