Doug Ford: On savoring his ‘Come to Jesus’ Moment

Ken MacDougall

Under “normal” circumstances, my 74-year-old younger brother doesn’t phone me during the course of the day, that is, unless he’s got some new way to describe how our federal government’s opposition parties are currently undermining the principles of our nation.

However, lately he has been expanding his fact-finding skills to include how our provincial leaders are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, and even utilizing an occasional American right-wing stray bullet of disinformation so as to embellish his line of thought. Usually I listen without offering any opinion just to see in what direction this “train” is moving. IF I happen to misinterpret even one facet contained therein – well, that is usually about the time an argument starts, and my wife moves to the next room so as to try and drown out the cross-shouting voices.

Now, please don’t get me “wrong” about my brother; I do “love” him in the traditional manner in which male siblings have been taught to deal with such matters, but he has two “personality” quirks that literally define his formation of character, both of which a majority of Saskatchewanians would immediately recognize as borderline “disorders”: he has ALWAYS voted “Liberal”, and secondly, he’s lived the majority of his life in Ontario.

When he phoned me on Thursday afternoon and started our conversation by actually praising Ontario premier Doug Ford, my first response was to worry about whether or not he’d had a stroke. Fortunately, my brother’s announcement was not a result of medical impediment, but rather of having been “moved” by Ontario premier Doug Ford’s decision to remove Cabinet member and Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls from caucus, thereby not allowing him to run as a Progressive Conservative candidate in the next provincial election.

The reason: Mr. Nicholls had decided to “call the bluff” of Mr. Ford when the party announced that its legislative house members had until 5:00 PM August 19th to get vaccinated, or face expulsion from the Party. It turns out that Mr. Ford actually meant what he said.

The sudden decision by the Ontario premier to bring his entire caucus into demonstrating just whose side they were on while the province was devising strategies on how to it should be fighting the Covid invasion isn’t the first time that Mr. Ford has deviated from the more “cautionary” approaches taken by politicians on the “right” of the political statement. In January, he expelled York Centre MPP from caucus for his opposition to lockdowns, procedures utilized so as to minimize human-to-human public interaction so as to help contain the spreading of the Covid-19 virus, and a procedure now being re-introduced in a panic attempt to restrain the spreading of the more virulent Delta variant.

In principle, Ford is considered to be part of the more extreme of right-wing politicians, at least in his points of view respecting the economy and the tenets of capitalism. For him to, symbolically at least, be seen slapping down those most likely to be sharing his economic beliefs is itself a mind-boggling example of why we should not all be blaming those on the “right” for not taking this virus seriously, even to the point of supporting personal actions that have been shown to scientifically contribute more to its spread as opposed to its contagiousness. In short, Doug Ford’s resistance to the nonsensical rantings of his more conservative teammates is almost miraculous – and about bloody well time for it to be happening.

I’m not going to be out this evening armed with a high-powered telescope looking for a new star on the Eastern horizon, but I’m now wondering how Ford’s determination to see the Covid menace obliterated, is going to affect the public’s reaction to calls begging those not already having received the shots to re-examine their own personal feelings and hesitancy. In particular, I can’t conceive of Scott Moe forsaking his government’s preoccupation with the mental Viagra they’ve been projecting in support of this province being a “strong Saskatchewan”, and instead developing the cojones to tell the many who showed up, some drunk, to publicly rebuke Dr. Saqib Shahab for his support of lockdowns to simply shut up, sit down or go home.

Mind you, no government in Canada, with the possible exception of Alberta’s Jason Kenney’s, is scanning the horizon for foreign “invaders” of our democratic sovereignty and funding disinformation campaigns so as to scuttle the efforts of his government trying to right the sinking economic ship once the envy of every provincial leader.

Indeed, it’s almost impossible to understand what is the “policy” of the Alberta government when it comes to fighting the next wave of Covid infection. Virtually all restrictions, including those affecting persons who are actually infected, have been removed from social gathering by the Kenney government, even as the number of cases is increasing at an alarming rate. In effect, for Albertans, “social distancing” has become an “optional” process, with merchants having been given free reign as to whether or not to impose masking requirements for its clientele.

Equally ludicrous is the attitude of the province’s governing party in response to the call for a federal election. On the one hand, the Kenney government is utilizing Covid as an “excuse”, questioning whether or not the writ should even have been dropped while Canada is “in the middle” of this pandemic, while on the other telling its citizens that the pandemic is essentially “over”, and people can start easing themselves back into a more normalized” form of lifestyle.

Ontario premier Ford’s response, to the contrary, is a refreshing change in the tactics now being utilized to help the 30% of Canadians still not vaccinated to simply go out and get the job done. It’s also a sign that our governments, at least the ones leading the fight against this virus, are fast reaching the breaking point in establishing at what juncture they will say, “enough is enough”, and no longer fund the programs that have been established to provide financial need for families having difficulty in coping with the economic realities of the virus’s ongoing effects upon the economy.

My only concern is, was Premier Moe even paying attention when Doug Ford, just for a minute, changed his personality and established a primacy of behaviour that all premiers should respect and emulate?