Ford Stock – The Ford government’s attack campaign misses the mark
There are so many things Ontario could have done to avoid this devastating third wave and there are things, even now, that the province can do to curb it and save lives.
But the Ford government doesn’t want to talk about that. What it wants to talk about are borders, borders and borders.
Premier Doug Ford, while defending his long-term care minister from criticism, segued to borders.
“There’s a gaping hole right now,” he said. “I am asking once again for the federal government to tighten up our borders until we don’t see this tragedy happening in any long-term care.”
The education minister, while announcing funding for schools, spoke of “variants seamlessly entering from our porous international borders.” The health minister, the solicitor general and others have all had a go at borders while deflecting criticism of what the provincial government has not done.
Small Business Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria’s call on Ottawa to “step up and secure our borders” was a particular low point since, along the way, he managed to wrongly claim that one dose of the Pfizer vaccine was only 30 per cent effective against the UK. variant.
And that’s just Ford and his cabinet ministers working on the taxpayer’s dime. The Progressive Conservative party has purchased TV and radio time to attack the federal Liberals’ pandemic response and launched a series of campaign-style ads.
One, released last week, warns of “mutant COVID variants” flying into Canada as animated planes land and a red stain spreads across a map. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, according to the ad, “didn’t close the borders when the pandemic started. He didn’t close the borders when the pandemic got worse.”
Never mind that the border has largely been closed to non-essential foreign travellers since March 2020. Never mind that something like 1 per cent of new cases last month were tied to travel.
The vast majority of those coming in are Canadians with a constitutional right to return to Canada. Would Ford like to keep them out? He’s certainly not saying that.
What about the temporary agricultural workers who come here to plant and pick our crops? There’s no indication he wants to keep them out either.
What about international students? When the Trudeau government called Ford’s bluff by saying it would be happy to restrict them if that’s what Ontario wants, it balked, saying it didn’t ask for that.
To be sure, there are plenty of legitimate concerns with how Ottawa has handled borders. It was initially slow to ban foreign travellers, slow to require negative COVID tests, and slow to set up quarantine hotels. There are still loopholes at land borders (Canadians who drive home get to skip the quarantine hotel) and significant questions about how well the rules are enforced.
But this campaign by the provincial government and the Ontario PC party that’s well into June 2022 election mode is not about any of that.
It’s nothing but a deflection game. It’s an attempt to shift blame for the third wave, which is much worse than it should be — and that’s on the Ford government. And it’s a way to try and change the channel from the crisis in long-term-care homes, inadequate paid sick leave, a chaotic vaccine rollout …
Ford is sinking in the polls over his dismal pandemic response. He’s desperately hoping that Ontarians who are worried about the severity of the third wave and frustrated with all the restrictions will join him in blaming Trudeau and the federal Liberals.
Ford’s PCs are light years ahead of everyone else but they are not the only ones looking for a partisan lift from pandemic headlines. The federal Liberal Party used Ford’s “nasty attack ads” as a jumping off point for its own fundraising pitch.
When asked about that, Trudeau said, “Canadians very much expect politics to continue to function.”
They may have very much expected that politics would continue, a bit like the cockroach that survives the apocalypse. That doesn’t mean they’ll be happy about any government or party that mines the horrific pandemic for partisan gain.
Canadians deserve better than politics as its basest.