As our fight against Covid-19 continues apace we’ve slowly started to see some activities come back to normal faster than maybe we would have hoped. One is the behaviours in our politics, which after this week seem to be pretty much back to the pre-Covid normal. When Covid-19 hit, we had a brief moment where our politicians pulled together, worked mostly as one and left the usual political BS to the side. It was a watershed moment but one that felt too good to last.
And it turns out it was, as over the past few weeks we’ve seen some old habits and behaviours come back to the service. It’s depressing that of all things to “come back” so fast that it would be this, but honestly it wouldn’t be 2020 if it didn’t I guess. Not every politician has gone back to their previous behaviours, acting relatively well on the surface and saying the right things. But bit by bit, we’ve been seeing even that slip back.
Take Ontario Premier Doug for example. It’s widely acknowledged that Premier Ford has grown a lot through this crisis. He’s mostly risen to the moment and been very collegial, even though he had behaved so poorly in his first 18 months in office. And while some of his fellow Conservatives like Andrew Scheer, Jason Kenney and Brian Pallister have reverted to old form, Ford has mostly held out on that. I say mostly because he’s had two notable slips in the past month.
The first came in his trip to check on his cottage when he was telling the entire province to stay home and not visit theirs. The second came when he admitted that he had his daughters over to his home for a visit, in explicit defiance of Ontario’s social distancing rules that Ford himself is correctly chiding others to obey. But so far those have been seen as kind of minor in the relative scheme of things. They were bad, but Ford had built up some good will and most people were willing wag a finger of disapproval towards him, but not much more. Plus, Ford has had social media a flutter in the past few days as he teased dropping his cheesecake recipe mixtape video. Everyone’s been watching the clips, waiting for the real thing to drop. And in these dark days, who doesn’t want to see some delicious cherry cheesecake getting made. Well today we got to get our fill of Doug the Baker:
Look, as a past political staffer, this is pure gold to me. Anyone who does political communication, regardless of the partisan bent, will tell you the same. And as I joked about on Twitter once this all started, Ford found my mortal weakness here, in my love of cheesecake. I joked that if he did this every time after he screws something up, my ability to criticize him may be neutralized as I stare into the cheesecake longing for a piece or three. I joked with someone else last night this whole plot twist feels like something from a bad supervillain movie, like a B-movie Lex Luthor with more hair trying to neutralize me with baked sweets. While I meant that as a joke, something else has come out about this afternoon that shows that maybe my low-rent movie comparison might be more apt than ever thought. That something was caught by Jonathan Goldsbie of Canadaland and could easily manage to tarnish this piece of political gold:
Crap everyone, this is like a bad movie, with the supervillain taking a victory lap while leaving the evidence of the crime out in the open, all while he’s trying to blind us with crumbled graham crackers and sweet cherry filling. And honestly, my gaze was firmly fixed on those sweet ingredients until Goldsbie came to the rescue, pulling my eyes away from what locked them in place to see the truth.
On the left, you see a shot of Doug Ford putting that delicious cheesecake in the oven to help achieve its warm, baked goodness. But on the right, you see Mr. Ford’s nephew, Toronto City Councillor Michael, apparently doing a Food Network try out video of his own in late April, sharing it on Twitter. While Doug is making the ambrosia of the dessert gods, Michael is making some meat and veg while enjoying a healthy glass of wine. But while their menus were different, you’ll notice that those pictures have one big thing of note in common: the kitchen.
How exactly did both Ford’s make meal-based social media posts from the same kitchen, just a few weeks apart, when they don’t live together? If they were obeying social distancing measures, how could they have pulled this off? The answer to the second question is clear, because they couldn’t pull that off without breaking social distancing measures and for Premier Ford, that would be Strike Three on that count. As Goldsbie points out, that kitchen can be found in the Ford family compound in Toronto. Goldsbie also points out that “Michael’s Covid-era tweets and videos show that’s where he’s living these days.”
So if that’s effectively Michael’s home (and not Doug’s), that would mean that Premier Ford shouldn’t be in there for any reason right now, let alone to do make distracting dessert videos that leave us all drooling in envy. In the times before Covid-19, if you were told that Doug Ford had gone against publicly mandated measures like these not once, not twice, but three times, it wouldn’t have shocked a lot. The loud, brash and sometimes ignorant Ford that we all became way too familiar with in the times before this pandemic was known for doing exactly this kind of thing. He was prone to chide others to act one way, while doing the opposite himself because it was what he wanted to do. But during Covid-19, we had seen growth in this man. We wondered how much of a corner he had turned in all of this or what the post-Covid Ford might look like.
Well now it looks like, with that piece of evidence hiding in plain sight, that we got two answers to that one question that we had. For starters, it looks like this Covid-Ford that we’ve seen might be fading away into the ether like his other Conservative colleagues have. But we can now add that maybe he hadn’t evolved as far as we thought he had. If he flaunted the rules, we’ve all been struggling with three times like this for his own benefit, how are we to know if those aren’t the only ones? What else has he been doing while folks haven’t been watching? It’s fair to ask, just as it’s fair to expect no benefit of the doubt after your third strike.
Gotta say that while I’d never vote for Ford it’s depressing to continue to see that the first thing to go back to normal is the crap state of our politics. It doesn’t leave a lot of hope that other things will get better rather than revert to some version of the crap it was before all this started. I’m still trying to be hopeful that things like these will all turn around but whatever. It’s a long weekend and after seeing that depressing development, it’s time for a little self care. I think I’ve got a cheesecake somewhere in this house & now’s the time to get better acquainted with it. Take Care!