Don Martin: It's time for adult supervision or a premier replacement in Doug Ford's Ontario
OTTAWA -- Whenever Doug Ford puts on that feel-your-pain “folks, I’m being honest with you” face, his pandemic-fighting plan from yesterday is about to be slammed into reverse - and replaced by something even worse.
I’ve been watching politicians since covering Calgary city council alongside a television reporter and future premier named Ralph Klein - yes, I’m that old - and I’ve never seen such raging ineptitude as Ford is now showing as Ontario premier.
And never have life-or-death actions and reactions fallen so short of the minimum threshold for competent leadership.
The only consistency shown by Doug Ford in recent months has been boneheaded inconsistency, a pattern which peaked late last week when Ford ignored his own expert advisory group to issue a series of COVID-19 edicts largely divorced from any connection to the risk of transmission.
His guiding principle seems to be to lock down where he doesn't need to and leave open areas he should’ve closed.
He compounds the damage of that misguided misdirection by reopening services at the first hint of a case count drop and to only re-close them when the next wave is too big to be stopped.
As for chronic inconsistencies, consider how his health minister insisted there would not be an enhanced lockdown only to shutter the patios as soon as restaurants and bars reloaded their fridges and beer kegs.
Or that schools were closed the day after the education minister promised classes were safe and would remain open.
And what really got parents howling was having playgrounds and other outdoor recreation deemed too dangerous for their bored kids. Ford disappeared from sight and reversed the decision in a tweet from a cabinet minister’s account.
Ford couldn’t even pitch stepped-up pandemic surveillance without dropping the ball. Major Ontario police forces quickly rejected Ford’s cabinet decree granting them stop-and-question powers for anyone suspected of straying outside their homes without an essential purpose.
Think about that for a second. How over-the-top must a decision be for police chiefs to refuse new enforcement tools? That’s something unimaginable in a world where forces often claim clampdown powers they don’t even have.
Naturally, having made that move without any advance cop consultation, the Ford government was forced into an overnight backtrack, again announced over Twitter.
Meanwhile, in an Ontario that’s the only jurisdiction in North America to close golf courses, Ford allows super-spreader factories, warehouses and construction sites to rumble on.
"Essential" construction is, by all appearances from the still-roaring sites I’ve seen, construction on anything.
Yet there’s still no sign of the rapid testing which should be imposed on every worker prior to entering buildings or job sites. And there’s no talk of soon demanding proof of vaccination from those who want to work in close proximity to others.
This cacophony of incompetence has given the Ford car wreck some international can’t-look-away rubbernecking attention.
A column calling for Ford to resign, written by Ottawa writer David Moscrop, topped the most-read list in the Washington Post yesterday.
Getting a page-seven Canadian mention in one of America’s most influential newspapers is a rarity. To soar to the top of the trending list proves how uniquely horrifying Ford’s handling of this crisis has become, even to scandal-hardened Americans.
Now, Ford will not resign and there’s no whispers of a caucus putsch underway although, at this stage, they surely know he’s a dead premier walking into defeat in next year’s election.
What’s worse, if that’s possible, is how Ford’s pathetic brand of ‘leadership’ accepts no blame for the current grim situation raging across the province.
It’s the feds' fault, he says, pointing to shortages of vaccines. He refuses to look at the ugly reality in the mirror where experts say the vaccines he’s now administering based on age must be redirected to essential workers in COVID-19 hotspots.
This vacuum of credible action has forced regions to step into the void. In the case of Toronto and hard-hit Peel, health officials have taken the sensible step of ordering businesses closed for ten days if they have recorded more than five COVID-19 cases in their midst.
Finally, consider what happened when the feds offered Ontario special health care help. Ford acted like it was a poisoned chalice instead of embracing it as a lifesaver for an intensive care network drowning in severe coronavirus cases.
So much for feeling our pain.
To the Progressive Conservative caucus of Ontario, it’s time to impose adult supervision on a premier acting on consistently and dangerously bad advice and instincts.
Or get us a new premier.
That’s the bottom line